The End of Policing
by Cheng Tim Tim
—thinking HK, China, the US, Greece, the Philippines, Kenya and elsewhere
It’s easier to dream of the end of Covid-19 / than the end of policing. I can think of the day / when the curve is flattened to alarm almost no one / but I can’t think of the day / when tyrants will not delay data release / and admit mistakes.
I can think of the day / when restaurants will stop / pointing thermometers at our foreheads / and abandon flimsy boards, stuffed dolls for separating tables / but I can’t think of the day / when my people / will not be held at gunpoint, / guilty of what we may have never done, a crime unstated on blank documents.
I can think of the day / when music festivals will resume, / thousands of goers sharing hand sanitizers instead of smuggled booze / but I can’t think of the day / when demonstrations will lead to negotiation, / not big bullies’s armoured national insecurities.
I can think of the day / when schools will open their doors / but I can’t think of the day / when schools can uninstall / barbed wires and classroom cameras / for teachers and students to stay open to ourselves, to the world.
I can think of the day / where everyone / discovers hand-washing / even if the urgency is gone / but I can’t think of a day / when tyrants will not get more hands dirty, / building coloured ladders for us to climb, / to step on each other for scraps.
I can think of the day / when masks will be seen / as small inconvenience / instead of a conspiracy, / an Asian paranoia / but I can’t think / of a future, where protesters could fight for each other, / without masking our faces from unchecked power, / a future / where victims of police brutality, beaten, choked, raped, shot, could report their cases without fear, / a future / where innocent ghosts could be brought back to life, / to a life in a changed world they deserved / instead of / being cited, slighted / as only a small, unfortunate fraction / less valued than tourist revenue.
I can think of the day / when there’s no shame in having a fever / but I can’t think of the day / when freethinkers, and detainees who don’t speak the main language / will not be spied on, shamed in exile, shackled in asylums until somehow suspiciously suicidal.The end of policing always seems / like science fiction to me. / Perhaps that’s the day when my people / would speak in codes. / Our features / interchangeable / with 5+1 chafed fingers intact, / the other 4 clenched tight, / to never expose in daylight fingerprints that remained. / Discipline would pass on as reflexes / even in future times of peace. / Our lungs would have a higher tolerance / for toxins from generations of war weapons, / and from smog / motorcycles would come / crashing at holographic fences / of the then abolished police / outside train stations, / a monumental display / of the end of cowardice, a tofu-dreg project doomed to fall / over burntpages and broken bones.
Editor’s Note: This poem was specially commissioned for “The Writing Life Beyond COVID-10: A Virtual Residency” (3-9 August 2020, jointly organised by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and the newly founded Mongrel Writers Residence. Photograph © Oliver Farry.
How to cite: Cheng, Tim Tim. “The End of Policing.” Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 8 Aug. 2020, hkprotesting.com/2020/08/07/end/.
Cheng Tim Tim teaches in an alternative school in Hong Kong. With a focus on personal experiences in protests, her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, The Offing, SAND Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, among others. She is one of the co-founding editors of EDGE: HKBU Creative Journal. Aside from translating interviews and news about Hong Kong, she speaks to international media such as de Volkskrant, Queer Majority and The Saturday Paper. She writes lyrics for bands, plays the bass guitar and collects tattoos at leisure.