Whither Hong Kong? / September 2014 (Issue 25)

Two Poems

by Aaron Chan


'Hong Kong is a paradise,'
says the English teacher.
The simple present tense indicates
it simply was,
it presently is,
and it will be...

We had a Governor known for
his love of authentic
Hong Kong-style egg tarts.
In the good year he left
but the handover promise is kept
and Hong Kong is still
a paradise, where an ICAC
Commissioner is addicted to
pricey Chinese wine.

The euphoric masses
after seventeen years still make
out of their pink cloud the cake
of fantastic prosperity
and a tea party
of ignorant frivolity, not remembering
the won ton noodles
devoured by golden bracelets and brandname handbags.
We wish to smile
without our heads, but this is
no Wonderland.

We imagine we were handling
Zhu Yuanzhang's mooncakes, but there
are only unequally small
egg yolks embraced by greasy
lotus paste. There is no dragon inside
chain-store box-set mooncakes.
Hong Kong has no fortune cookies.

One day, they will take away
our egg tarts and milk tea.
But we will still have pineapple buns
made of gutter oil and
without pineapple.
'Doesn't matter,' a sixty-four-year-old Papa
says, 'we have survived
and will survive
for another fifty years.'

Hong Kong is a paradise
for dreamers.


good morning class
you sluggishly stand up
good morning Mr Chan
in monotone everyone chants

today –
lessons as usual
so hand in your journal
and countless reply slips
monitor please give me some clips

now –
a period of silence
to offer condolence
but how many are thinking
of the quiz in the second lesson?

could we just keep calm and focus
on our lessons lessons lessons?

could we learn from Chemistry anything
about the composition of the spray?
too much too much too much pepper
the Home Economics teacher may say

do map reading skills inform us
where the teary firework was displayed?
the alleged violence of the imaginary mob
was simply vertical exaggeration

could we possibly conclude the casualties
by solving a quadratic equation?
but nothing can stop the people from
flooding the land in geometric sequence

a spontaneous Music lesson
in the streets with no musical instruments
but voices of people in unison
dispersing beyond the skyline

all these will be written
into our History curriculum
narrating the events in past tense
and creating them in the future

so keep calm and focus
on our lessons lessons lessons
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