Thursday, September 29, 2005

Published with permission from the poet

I've been having trouble uploading my pix from Intrams, so in the meantime I decided to post this poem written by one of my Cyrenz students, Jo Tong. I am continually blown away by this girl's brilliant writing talent. So allow me this indulgence of acting like a proud parent posting their kids' artwork on the fridge door (and of bragging to the world that I was once this girl's English teacher... but trust me, she was brilliant even before I taught her anything).

Pop Culture and the Way of the World
Joanne Raissa (Ra-ee-sa, mind you) Tong

We live in a self-help nation
That subsists on Chicken Soup for the Soul
And books that teach us about Being Happy,
Making Friends, and playing by The Rules

Headlines blare
Fad diets here
(Listen to the sound of the Atkins and South Beach Revolution)
UFO sightings there
Celebrity-starved people everywhere
(Petitions for restraining orders, too)

To dream is to die
Equivocation is communication
The distinction between tabloid and truth is irrelevant
(Note to self: guilty as charged!)
No means yes
And yet a kiss is now really “just a kiss”
Holding no promise of a future
And the world will not always welcome love, contrary to the song

Reel and real collide
Navel-baring nymphets sell empty promises
A mirror of sad reality
Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll
Sex, lies, and videotape
Sex, sex, and actually…just sex

Man goes to work by putting a noose around his neck
(concept borrowed from an email forward)
Places junk food wrappers in a glass case and calls it fine art
Tries his best to be radical and stand out
Thus making the left the new center
Surrounds himself with contacts but remains alone
Pays a shrink to pour his heart out to
Since no one else is willing to stop talking and listen
And at the end of the day, is left with himself
A gaping void

This is the age of (quote unquote) reality TV, conspiracy theories
Diagnoses, neuroses
Philias, phobias, fetishes
Where “bling bling” is an actual entry in the Webster dictionary
Materialism is king
(Would that make Madonna its queen? Nah, she’s in her American Life-critic incarnation at the moment.)
Equality and tolerance abound…nuclear weapons, too
(To avoid obliteration, suck up to Mr. “Either-you’re-for-us-or-against-us” and his world of black and white)

Corporate greed and the me-first mentality
Fads come and go while addictions grow
Ageism is the new prejudice
You’re only as beautiful as your plastic surgeon can make you

It’s a wired, wired world out there
No, in here
Cell phones and laptops are human appendages
Fifth limbs, if you will
Disconnection is amputation
Digital delays, digital domains
Non-living viruses = the new pandemics
The 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not hack.

Can this be our Shangri-La?
More like a prison of our own making
We have never been freer or more trapped
Enslaved by the same social evils our predecessors faced
Foolishly duped by their new disguises
(But what of politics? Economics?... Don’t get me started.)
“Progress” blinds us to moral degradation

You try to make your voice heard
You scream
Only to be engulfed by the crowd


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