Poem Hunter
East Bloc Kid Goes West (Satis Shroff)
SS ( / Dharan)

East Bloc Kid Goes West (Satis Shroff)

A pair of heavy scissors fly
In a dark Hauptschule classroom,
Thrown by an Aussiedler school-kid,
Near Freiburg’s Japanese Garden.

The scissors can slash your face,
Or mine.
You can be maimed for life,
Like Scarface,
If the sharp ends
Bury in your eyes,
Or mine.

Let there be light.
Vitaly, a boy from the former east Bloc
Comes to the West,
In search of ancestors and heritage.
What he gets is rejection but freedom.
Freedom to do as he pleases,
With pleasant negative sanctions.
‘Even in jail they have TV, ’
he says with a laugh.

He grows up in a ghetto,
And his anger burns.
Anger at his ageing parents,
Who forced him to come to the West,
But who are themselves lost in this new world
Of democratic, liberal values,
Luxurious and electronic consumer delights,
Where everyone cares for himself or herself,
Where the old structures of the society
They clung to in the east Bloc days
Don’t exist.

A brave new world,
A Schlaraffenland,
Where economy and commerce flourishes,
Where the individual’s view is important,
To himself,
To herself
And to others.

The East Bloc boy learns
To assert himself in the West,
Not with solid arguments and rhetoric
But with his two fists.
He fancies cars and their contents,
Breaks open the windows,
Takes all he wants.
Brushes with the police
At an early age.

English, Latin and French at school,
Irritates him,
He prefers to play the clown:
To dance on the table,
Make suggestive moves with his groin,
High on designer drugs,
High all the time.
Opens the classroom door,
Sees a girl from the seventh grade,
And yells at her.

His behaviour brings laughter
But he turns off the girls he admires.
He grins and insults his peers.
Rejected by youngsters,
Admonished by grown-ups,
He watches the society.

Chic clothes, streamlined cars, plastic money,
But he forgets
that there’s personal performance
Behind these worldly riches.
‘The rich German drives his BMW
With his head in the air.
What does he care?
What does he care? ’
Thinks Vitaly.

A pair of scissors fly
In a dark classroom.
His pent-up emotions,
Let loose in a German Hauptschool,
Near the Japanese Garden.

His classmate from Croatia
Throws chairs at another.
‘Aus Spass’ he says.
Just for fun.
He shouts at the German Putzfrau,
Who cleans the classrooms:
‘Sie Geistesgestörte! ’
You mad woman.

Is the school-system to blame?
Are western culture, tradition
Social, liberal values and norms to blame?
Are his parents
who speak a conserved Deutsch
to blame?
Is his Russian mother-tongue,
And his great Russian soul to blame?

Nobody answers his questions,
Nobody cares,
Out in the West.
“Verdammt, I want to be heard! ”
screams Vitaly.
The people shake their heads,
Mutter, ‘Ein Spinner! ’
And walk away.

A pair of sharp, long scissors
Fly in a dark classroom.
The scissors can slash your face,
Or mine.

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Edgar Allan Poe

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