James A. Tweedie, ‘Bad China’ – 3rd Place Award

Bad China

by James A. Tweedie

On Christmas and Thanksgiving, the good China’s what we use.
It makes the food taste better, whether turkey, ham or stews.
All other times the ordinary China’s “good to go,”
It’s sturdy and reliable, more “practical” than “show.”

But hidden in the cupboard, back behind our plastic ware,
We bury the bad China that we don’t trust anywhere.
For though its surface looks just fine and dandy to the eye
Its glaze had lead and other stuff that could cause folks to die.

And underneath each plate is stamped a question in red ink:
“This dish was made by Falun Gong and Uighurs, don’t you think?”
It also says it’s “Made in China” in a workcamp jail.
The red ink’s from the blood of folks they won’t let out on bail.

Bad China chips quite easily, with edges that are sharp
Enough to excise and transplant a person’s lungs and heart.
The pattern on each plate seems fine and elegant as well—
A pattern swiped from someone else’s copyright, do tell!

And so, we eat and drink our fill and go our merry way,
While with our blinkered eyes we blindly live from day to day.
And on and on and on we go through life without a care,
As long as we pretend that our bad China isn’t there.

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Winner of the 3rd Place Award in FoFG’s 2023 Poetry Contest