Shao Long

CORRECTION-CHINA-QUAKE

Shao Long forces his concrete eyes awake
Staying up past 2 was his gravest mistake
Skipping two pages his most regretful crime
He scowls at the digital notice of time

No dream came to his minimised slumber
He closes his lids all he pictures are numbers
His blinks transformed the clock 4 hours
No time for teeth nor tea nor shower

Counts down from ten then shoves his sheets
Computer game allowance delayed another week
Tracksuit his suit his job never ending
University application sent off and pending

Leaves the apartment as his parents rise
Honour their pride, their only prize
A stall selling pancake filled with spice and egg
Bubble milk tea to brush off the last of his bed

2 pages lost jump back to his head
25 minutes catch up or be dead
300 heads on the bus rack to rack
Complete the last sum leaning up on Li Hua’s back

And we’re back at the gates as the guards scan and glare
Any back talkers, only few would dare
The same old creaky rickety chair
Awaits Shao Long at the top of the stairs

“Pin Yueh, you snoring in my class?
No wonder the whole school knows you’re an ass
I’ll thrash the arse of this future sweeper
Nod off again and my ruler’ll go deeper

“Are you aware you’ll amount to nothing?”
Returns to the board huffing and puffing
Shao Long not long until you can breathe
The playground that is university

He sees them everyday on his way in
Chatting up girls but can’t tell what they’re saying
Casually strolling through their new prefecture
Free as a sparrow from cafe to lecture

The name of the uni enough for security
A place to be childish on the way to maturity
But before that not a moment to lose
An unfortunate moment to drift into a snooze

Snapped out by a slam on the desk by his face
“Shao Long, I’m surprised your willingness to disgrace”
Apologise thrice for the sin of exhaustion
One class over, a fraction of the daily portion

First session followed by two, three, four
60 pens scribble as the teacher talks
Infinite heads on the lunch table to nap
Five, six, seven then olympic math

An athlete of numbers he does not feel
A slave or prisoner to study more real
A myriad of faces expressing the same
Not being alone stops going insane

But now alone with a tutor for a whole hour
Retain your focus with a voice so dour
Transported to a language school
Impression has faded that English is cool

Not even when taught by comic book heroes
Patronising pandering, message is clear no?
The session is done, lao wai shut your mouth
56 bus to head back south

Shao Long the zombie goes slow out the lift
These moments his holidays where his mind can drift
Standing at a bus stop, taking a dump
Tying his laces his thoughts are off sums

Back to the home and his mother has bad news
Fei Lin from down stairs consumed with blues
Fell from the balcony but ‘fall’ a word wrong
Couldn’t go on, same age as Shao Long

Brought shame on the family, haunted by doubt
Shao thought just a few more months to get out
Been a few years since he’d felt her smile
“No time to relax you’ve been sat here a while”

Sat in the bedroom, half past nine
So close to the bed he’s been craving all day
The craving abstained until 4 hours time
For the briefest of sleeps to start over again


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