‘Confucius Institute Workers’ and Other Poetry by Damian Robin The Society February 24, 2018 Poetry 8 Comments Confucius Institute Workers (Excerpt) For Xinqun Note: Confucius Institutes are being or have been set up at major universities throughout America and the West. Their primary stated goal is educational, but they are also pushing a communist agenda from the Mainland. In cool grey shadows of the red brick walls Where timetables and student duty calls, The Asian Studies annex grows odd fruit — The red-brick-clad Confucius Institute. It bleeds the red of Chinese Communism, Live colours drain blood-red inside its prism. Its wall-eyed shelves are bluffed with stiffened spines And roughed-out Party thoughts, so little shines. The Institute obeys the Embassy. Has rooms inside the University. No independence, it will always be A part of Party culture’s industry. The staff are diligent and courteous In dealing up its social incubus And succubus and other demon types That they don’t see as demons through its hypes. Some staff have no intention to deceive But that’s the dark impression that they leave. Not ignorant, they want to stay aloof From Chinese blood dripping through the roof. Have you forgotten: kindness meets itself? Have you forgotten: evil meets itself? This knowledge from your ancient Chinese past. This knowledge in the roots that you have lost. For office goods and learnéd artefacts The Uni boards wear Party cataracts. The Uni staff and C.I. staff combine To keep both parties’ interests in line. Conversations with a Chinese Language Partner from the Confucius Institute Within the Party’s sea, her mind was grown; submerged, its grog has been her go-to drink; the Party was the first thirst she had known; she pours it through her throat, so not to sink. And yet she’s spoken, calm, convincingly, of how her father’s business was wound up and merely questioning the power’s that be, on their appropriation, had him locked up. Like any Westerner might nod and shrug about the blatant inequalities that makes their government a curtained thug, so she of hers, though sweating loyalties. From other friends, I heard some horror tales of organs cut without an anaesthetic. I tell her of the evidence, she wails, too affronted to be sympathetic. She pans my words, prospecting, strains to see the sunshine pinnacles that glint midstream — the surface glitz and splash economy, the glass-thin show dance of New China’s dream. I draw for her the state-wide cash cow farm, the paddock ward, the penned-in hospital where organs switch and doctors don’t alarm so transplant work’s debased and prodigal. From her: a waterfall of forced defence, of how the Party does not do such things — of how she loves her country — how her sense of love is mashed up by my messagings — it seems we’ve never had an open bond; that she backs evil in no conscious way; reverting to some cramp from back beyond and she’ll be in its jaws on Judgement Day. Then I see the cause of her distress— we now meet on a hanging e-based thread; one thoughtless comment of some Party mess, and on trips home she could be jailed (or dead). Before, we’d natter in some coffee place, reading gestures, serious but fine. Since then, she’s got a job, and has to pace, is trav’ling miles, so now we meet online. On social media, big brother’s known. Its Chinese consequences seem absurd. She fears the depths in which she might be thrown. While rooting for her country, she is scared. Song Eternal flows ___Return, begin; Inconstant force ___In constant spin; What’s now will be ___For ever, once — Truth, Compassion, ___Tolerance. Damian Robin is a writer and editor living in the United Kingdom. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 8 Responses James Sale February 24, 2018 ‘The Song’ is beautiful – love the flow. Reply Damian Robin February 25, 2018 Thanks James, good to get a thumbs up from a fellow Brit whose work I admire. As you only comment on the poem with the most straightforward content, I wonder if you find the subject of the other two troubling. Reply Amy Foreman February 24, 2018 I agree with James Sale, Damian. All of these are well-written, thought-provoking, and sobering. Reply Damian Robin February 25, 2018 Thanks, Amy. (Including that James Sale would agree, as he has great percepton) I think all of the above can be applied to your poems. Reply David Watt February 24, 2018 All well-written as has has been said. ‘Song’ conveys a clear and concise message with a fitting musical quality. Reply Damian Robin February 25, 2018 Thank you David. For a long time, I have been too pressed in my immediate life to look often at the Society’s pages. So I have to catch up on its delights, including your work that I know is in here. Reply Lu "Reed ABCs" Wei February 26, 2018 With abrupt language, rhyme and metre, “Conversations with a Chinese Language Partner from the Confucius Institute” explores the complexities of an individual in a bureaucratic, semi-totalitarian setting. I most admire the casual voice Mr. Robin attains in his portrait of distant evil, a difficult task in rhyme, and the final semi-jarring slant rhyme. At times, Mr. Robin is straining after effects that are nearly verbally impossible. Take, for example, this quatrain: “She pans my words, prospecting, strains to see the sunshine pinnacles that glint midstream, the surface glitz and splash economy, the glass-thin show dance of New China’s dream.” Though I like the metrical exactitude and spondaic moments, the opening verb, the alliteration in, and between, the lines, and the final political phrase, “prospecting” is a verbal triumph, because it catches all parts of the quatrain, while at the same time explaining the human interaction precisely. Reply Damian Robin March 2, 2018 Great to get comments that look closely at one’s work and see things one was not consciously aiming for – just emersed in. Thanks Mr Lu Reed. 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