Beginnings of a poem, ” Fans of the Tiger (Draft 1) [needs work] “

Fans of the Tiger (Draft 1)

I’m reading about yet another former subject of the Soviet empire that is struggling after its independence to become democratic and prosperous. The struggles show how evil the empire was. Many of these places were never heard from until after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many millions were killed from the formation until the collapse. The Cold War made it all invisible in a balance of terror and silence, a dance of graceful diplomacy and double talk — most of the clients too difficult to help. I had forgotten, for example, about Mongolia, and couldn’t even remember whose satellite it was — was it Russia or China. Rarely heard its name.
Mongolia’s Boom Town Hope and Fear

But anyway, I started a very vague and general thing. I don’t know if I can refine and finish it. It really doesn’t seem that charming that over the years that both Russia and China killed millions. And yet, over the years, many in the West admired their “Culture” and would go ga-ga over their writings and artifacts etc. Maybe it’s never good to be seduced by the relativity of cultures. Maybe some are not good however charming they may appear. Advanced in Science and War, Art, etc. but primitive in morals. No? Beating and torturing dissidents doesn’t seem like high culture; does it?

Fans of the Tiger (First Draft)

The Tyrant Tigers have their own cultural heritage:
they’re charming with their ferocious cuteness,
beautiful fur looking to be petted, but

so many fools dream to hug a tiger
who seems endangered. They love
puppy dogs and tiger cubs like
the early Bolsheviks, or
a young ideal Mao:
share the wealth and Love

In theory,
the tiger cub is cute.

When tigers are angry
it is instinct.

When humans become tigers
they are deranged with chic fur
admired by stuffy intellectuals who
Love fantasy and ideals on thesis papers
making stuffed animals real and harmless
as if you could jump into a cage with a tiger.

And what did the cute Soviet tiger
do to the world?

When the tiger died
did not the prey flourish?

Who remembers all the dead
of Ukraine exiled and starved
of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia,
East Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia
Mongolia and the huh-istans that
few tiger lovers, who hug their teddy bears,
can name at a cocktail party devoted to
tolerance for tigers.

Once in awhile at a zoo
someone jumps into the tiger cage, and
gets mauled to death, because
they Love cuteness, and the
cultural beauty of the tiger.

Yet still many wish to
open the doors of the cultural cages
and let the animals run free, because

they think predators must eat,
and the lamb needs no claws
and tastes delicious as long as
they can be the chef with
the cute puffy pompous hat.

— Douglas Gilbert


7 thoughts on “Beginnings of a poem, ” Fans of the Tiger (Draft 1) [needs work] “

  1. Beating and torturing dissidents is certainly not high culture…the lack of morals is sad. Speaking of sad, this part of the article that you posted really tugged at my heart “The less fortunate take shelter in the sewers, where they huddle beside hot-water pipes when the temperature plunges to 40 below.” That is horrible…but from the article it seems Mongolia is thriving with their mining. Hopefully soon, some of the wealth will trickle down to those poor people. I agree, i don’t think either Russia or China could be considered charming.
    I think your poem is great –
    “When the tiger died
    did not the prey flourish?” Very thought provoking…why yes the prey did flourish and is doing much better without the tiger trying to make the prey dinner.
    I have to admit, i do think Tigers are beautiful animals though, we saw one sleeping at the zoo about a month ago…but there’s no way you would see me trying to climb into the pen with it or setting it free to roam through my city. I’m not THAT brave, hehe…
    I like the cute puffy pompous hat ending, it made me giggle.

    1. I don’t know what happened to us as kids. We always watched the news together and were told to not have any emotional reaction, I think (don’t remember exactly) — “don’t worry about it”, “it’s a far-off place”, “we have enough to worry about; we can’t be worrying about backward places” — but somehow we were desensitized and it all seemed like an exciting game. Perhaps that’s the key to a vicious world: not identifying with other people’s children because they’re considered primititve or decadent depending on which side you’re on: each side in their own way seems to feel they are superior in their belief or way of life or knowledge or faith…

      1. Yeah, perhaps that is the key to a viscous world, maybe i need to look into being desensitized somehow. My parents hardly ever let me watch TV and i don’t remember ever watching the news. But i really don’t want to end up screwing up my son because i get frightened about things easily. I’m not sure how to even go about raising him to be tough and brave…

  2. Thanks. I don’t know how we break out of the cycle where great scientific and cultural progress is made separate from any moral or ethical progress. So much knowlege was gained and lost with the Greek and Roman Empires. But they were cruel. Every ancient culture had great wisdom and philosophers but their leaders were savage in practice. The decadence led to collapse. Something is wrong when each country brags about their Golden Age and ignors the ethical lapses which led to their decline. It seems that there has been great scientific progress but no social or political progress. The knowledge about how people can get along in a rational and just way seems to be no more advanced than it was thousands of years ago. The science is better, and the weapons are better, but social science is apparently Zero — none of it has worked ever. War, war, and new war.

    1. I know exactly what you mean – watching the news scares me and even gives me nightmares sometimes. It’s worse than a horror movie because this stuff is actually happening to real people who have families and loved ones…
      When it was just me that i had to worry about, it wasn’t as scary to me but ever since i became a mom, i’m reminded more and more that this world is not a very safe place for children. I can’t even let my son watch the news, i don’t want those horrible images in his head giving him nightmares too.

      1. I put the response in the other section because this box seems to indicate that I’m replying to myself which I guess is OK because I often talk to myself even though I don’t always listen.
            But anyway, the other substantive reply would have gone here, wherever here is, if it said “Reply to You” at the top of the box instead of “Me to Me”. But maybe you get the notice anyway? I don’t know, I guess it’s me-me-me: this little piggy went to market..something something.. and this little piggy cried “we,we,we” all the way home. (i don’t know, do they still do that toe game with little children? anyway, what is it supposed to mean? I’m not sure I liked having my toes pulled when I was little. Seems weird when I think about it.)

      2. Hmmm…now it made me click on the reply button under the last reply i left in order to put what i want to say. I wonder why it doesn’t give the option to reply under your very last post in the conversation? Odd…
        I used to do the little piggies on my kiddos feet when he was a baby, he loved it! He would giggle and squeal…but i didn’t pull his toes, i tickled them. It does seem kind of weird…i wonder what it all means too…

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