Hello, Dalai

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained …
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago.

–Walt Whitman

(to be sung to the tune of “Hello, Dolly”)

I said hello, Dalai,
This is G.C., Dalai,
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
In your sarong, Dalai,
Lookin’ swell, Dalai–
You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’
That old feudal song.
I hear the monks prayin’
And the horns playin’
One of your anti-commie songs from way back when.
So … pack the yak, fellas,
Forget about Iraq, fellas,
Dalai’ll never go away again.

I said, hello, Dalai,
Holy-gee, Dalai,
Gere’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
Your inner light, Dalai–
Outa sight, Dalai!–
Just be happy, don’t be sappy–
We’ll all sing along.
I hear Iran prayin’
And Petraeus playin’
One of those Oprah-tappin’ tunes from way back when.
So … golly-Jeez, Dems,
Kiss the old man’s knees, Dems,
Bush’ll never go away,
Dalai’ll never go away,
Celebs will never go away again.

Just one more set, Dalai,
“Free Tibet,” Dalai,
Get it back to where it was when you were Lord.
I mean your serfs, Dalai,
On your turfs, Dalai,
When you clapped hands they’d understand
That old feudal song.
I see prayer-wheels spinnin’
And the Pope’s grinnin’
And the Wretched of the Earth can take a hike … yikes!
Golly-gee, Gere,
Mia and Clooney–all hear–
We’re sick of all you sycophants
Kissin’ the ass of hierophants,
Take your ill-earned gilt and go away.

Well, one more show, Dalai,
I can’t go, Dalai,
Till you tell me where the cash went from the C.I.A..
Was it well-spent, Dalai?
Was it leant, Dalai
To cover sub-prime mortgages in the U.S.A.?
We’re hurtin’ bad, Dalai,
It’s so sad, Dalai,
Katrina took its toll and where were you … hey?
Free Tibet–sure,
Palestine and much more,
We’re never gonna go away
We’re never gonna go away
We’re never gonna go away
Again!

Gary Corseri's work has appeared at Dissident Voice, Common Dreams, CounterPunch, the New York Times, Village Voice and hundreds of other venues. His dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. His books include novels and poetry collections. He can be reached at: gary_corseri@comcast.net. Read other articles by Gary.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 23rd, 2008 at 7:20am #

    Shit.

  2. Ron Horn said on April 23rd, 2008 at 8:37am #

    Love it!

  3. hp said on April 23rd, 2008 at 9:21am #

    Not trying to ‘stick up’ for the Dalai Lama, so much as for Walt Whitman, friend and associate of Thoreau, Emerson, Whittier, Melville, Alcott, all those early American ‘transcendentalists’ who read and loved ‘the ancient Hindu poems,’ I’d suggest a read of Whitman’s ‘Passage To India’ for a fuller grasp of his philosophy.

  4. Gary Corseri said on April 23rd, 2008 at 10:18am #

    Thanks for your comment, hp.

    Actually, I like much of Whitman, and the lines I quoted are among my favorite of his. (I rather dislike his prose piece, “Democratic Vistas,” with its strange hoopla-praise for American expansionism. And I wish he’d taken Emerson’s advice and trimmed a bit of “Leaves of Grass” here and there.) I’ll have to re-read “Passage to India,” as you suggest to see what I might have missed.

    I’m using Whitman’s lines here to offset the unthinking, unstinting devotion many followers of the Dalai Lama (and, of course, other religious and political leaders) lavish upon him. I’ve nothing personal against the Dalai Lama–I’ve never met him; I don’t know him personally. On the other hand, deifying him–or any mortal–I find profoundly disturbing. The fact that “celebrities” attach themselves to select causes–freeing Tibet, Darfur, etc.–while ignoring more politically-charged issues like our imperial adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ghettoization of Palestine, our 50,000,000 Americans without healthcare is, for me, the most troubling aspect of the Dalai Lama’s popularity in the U.S. Why must we reduce complex, geopolitical issues to bumper-sticker slogans?

    So, when Uncle Walt writes, “Not one bows to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,” I think he’s advising us to take stock of the world as it is now, to develop our own awareness to the point where we recognize the complexities of life, but are able to act upon our best, honed, moral judgments.

    The other key line in Whitman above: “not one of them makes me sick discussing their duty to God.” It seems to me that much of “religion” consists of priests, preachers, rabbis, imams and what have you telling us about our “duty to God,” while too few focus our attention on our duty to each other, our Earth, other species, or developing our own intellects to the point where we can confidently question and challenge received doctrines or the edicts of an immoral or amoral military-industrial-academic-media-government complex.

    If I’ve hinted at some of this in my little satire, then I’ve succeeded. If not, mea culpa.

  5. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 23rd, 2008 at 11:19am #

    How about “our imperial” relationship — which doesn’t even require “adverturism,” but will if you lights-of -our-times keep ignoring it — with Cuba, Gary?

    Or is that skating too close to “Communism” for you?

    Or have you simply gone brain-dead on the issue? And on the longest and most inhumane arms-length “treatment” of one country by another in modern history — the embargo?

  6. hp said on April 23rd, 2008 at 11:21am #

    Gary, I chuckled a bit at Emerson describing Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ as ‘a blending of Gita and the New York herald.’

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 23rd, 2008 at 11:25am #

    Way to keep it on subject, hp.

  8. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 23rd, 2008 at 11:35am #

    You, Mr. Corseri, and Kim Petersen might keep in mind that there WOULD be indians in Cuba had they not all been exterminated. Are is that fact also beyond your political awareness?

  9. hp said on April 23rd, 2008 at 12:12pm #

    Sorry Lloyd, I didn’t realize Cuba was the subject.

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 23rd, 2008 at 12:13pm #

    And what the f— did you think the subject WAS, hp? But you don’t have to apologize. No one expects you to have political awareness.

  11. hp said on April 23rd, 2008 at 1:17pm #

    Lloyd, excuse my naive and limited comprehension. I thought the subject was hypocrisy and misconscrewed devotion to a blind loyalty of self serving smugness. Or something like that.

  12. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 23rd, 2008 at 3:38pm #

    Hmmmmm. I posted a msg after “what the f—-” and before your “excuse my naive” regarding Corseri and Petersen, hp, which I must have failed to send.

    I can’t recall it exactly and didn’t save it of course. But in it, I suggested you read Corseri’s great praise for Kim Petersen’s review of Leonard Peltier’s Prison Writings here at DV on April 21. And I even suggested that Kim the DV editor and Gary the article author may share a certain….common….anti-Castro-Communist bias. Not conspiratorially but in convergence, as it were. Which bias against self-admitted commies, hp old hand, you may recall I brought up here at DV about six months ago.

    Upshot, hp. You are fully justified in being perplexed by my dragging Petersen into the matter. But there is not one word of my first post above cocerning Corseri’s “poem.” To wit, Shit. And my second post. To wit:

    “How about “our imperial” relationship — which doesn’t even require “adventurism,” but will if you lights-of -our-times keep ignoring it — with Cuba, Gary?

    Or is that skating too close to “Communism” for you?

    Or have you simply gone brain-dead on the issue? And on the longest and most inhumane arms-length “treatment” of one country by another in modern history — the embargo?”

    GL Rowsey

  13. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 23rd, 2008 at 3:42pm #

    ….that I regret. And I very much hope Corseri has the integrity to reply with his reasons for considering the topic of Castro and Cuba beyond his pale of thought. Or should I say beyod his “pale thought”?

  14. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 23rd, 2008 at 6:49pm #

    In fact I’m on record, here, more than once pleading with lefties to quit attacking other lefties for things they do not say.

    But that concerned the dialog then (and now) being carried on by lefties in America. As if the world didn’t exist prior to 9/11. (The mirror image of what the Bushies claim; no wonder Cheney does stand-up comedy; the joke’s the left.) It was not about presently verboten topics among lefties.

    And what more vereboten topic than that little island 90 miles from Florida? I rephrase the questions that got me maligned and ignored six months ago, right here at Dissident Voice: do “dissidents” in America actually believe American commies are all dead, or were all Stalinists? Do they actually think there’s a more representative example of brainwashing than the fifty years of hooey “justifying” the embargo of a country with even less intent or capacity to attack the United States than…than…I’m at a loss for a comparison. Hasn’t the question repeatedly asked by Bill(?) Blum about Iraq sunk in at all as applying to Cuba? Why would they WANT to attack the United States and commit suicide?

    Really, folks. It’s hard to conclude anything but that it’s their cowardice and fear that keeps so many lefties in this country silent on Cuba. Fear of Floridian ex-Cubans. Fear of resurgant anti-communism. And that it’s almost a relief among these lefties that the Chipmunk and his minions have provided such a enormous load of evil and idoicy for them to be concerned with, instead of speaking out about Cuba.

    Well, bah f—— humbug!

    Anyone out there heard of “Fidel Speaks” by Ignacio Ramonet? There’s a review of it in progress, not copyrighted exactly because subject to change, at:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/AEHALOZC9JRS6/ref=cm_cr_auth/103-3283066-5558260?%5Fencoding=UTF8

    Post a comment after it, if you like. I’ll reply.

  15. Rich Griffin said on April 24th, 2008 at 5:56am #

    I’m confused: why exactly are we bashing the Dalai Lama?? Are we now in love with China, and dont’ care about the oppressed people of Tibet? This was one of the most mean-spirited threads ever – why??

  16. Max Shields said on April 24th, 2008 at 7:24am #

    Gary, you hit all the right notes!!!

    Rich, I don’t think Gary is implying an either/or. Like so many “Save” projects that the interventionists set us up for Tibet and the history of what’s going on there smells like much of the same… USA/CIA track record is pretty consistent and so if you read some of the posts on this topic you’ll note a disturbing history.

    Max

  17. mary said on April 24th, 2008 at 7:31am #

    Now there are some sensible remarks coming on to this column and the ad hominem stuff recedes into the murk, can

  18. mary said on April 24th, 2008 at 7:39am #

    that break was weird but I’ll continue if I may.. can I say that I thought ‘Hello Dalai’ was a brilliant satire and most imaginative both in the concept and the execution. I also felt in tune with the opening quote from Walt Whitman. I only hope that all these celebrities who batten on to causes, perhaps to further their own publicity, would go away as Mr Corseri suggests. Sick and tired of them.

  19. NKG said on April 24th, 2008 at 7:45am #

    Hi Gary Corseri,
    Before composing the poem, you should have visited Dharmasala and other Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal. You are bringing Palestine issue here. What is the relation between Palestine and Tibet?
    It the failure of us ( the asians of Thailand, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Japan,Korea and Srilanka ) to address this issue.

  20. Rich Griffin said on April 24th, 2008 at 8:11am #

    I’m glad that celebrities speak up – because we don’t have a mainstream media that will bring these issues up. I don’t think it’s wise to beat them up. Why so much anger, and so little constructive ideas? Whenever I bring up the need to start with REFORM – of media, elections, support of progressive culture – these ideas are ignored, because they require WORK! It’s disheartening… the people of Tibet ARE being oppressed, and they do need our support. Are they perfect? Is anybody? I didn’t quite get this poem as a satire, that’s all.

  21. Max Shields said on April 24th, 2008 at 1:14pm #

    Rich what makes you think most of these celebrities are not in line with mainstream news and thinking?

    It seems they’re very much in line. They (with the exception of perhaps Sean Penn) follow the path of interventionism that has been USA foreign policy…well for at least 100 years or more.

    Tibet has been a focus of the mainstream media. Richard Gere is simply one more reason to feature it, but before he ever entered into the fray such was the case.

    Clooney with Darfur is pretty much the same. These are mainstream liberals not progressives going against the mainstream grain.

    I remember when Jane Fonda jumped into Vietnam. The protesters in this country had reached such a pitch as to make her involvement more like a personal temper tantrum or late adolesent revolt against an over-bearing father than an authentic protester against what had long been shouted as a massive case of American atrocities.

    Since none of these celebritiese (with maybe the exception of Sean Penn) read sites like DV you can rest assured that they are far from being “beat up”. In fact, they’re doing quite well, thank you.

    As far as the people in Tibet needing our help – that was the case for our invasion and occupation of Iraq (and countless others). That’s the language of empire. The Brits used it to justify a massive imperial empire.

    If you think America is the “good” guy that can get rid of the “bad” guy for the sake of the “victim” than you’ve gotten and fully incorporated the empire message. Conflicts need to be understood. Their patterns are fairly universal and the solutions are too. Interventionism is not a solution nor is pooring money and sympathy.

    In the end Rich, who in the hell are WE to be telling ANYBODY what they should or should not do when WE are the reason why over a million Iraqis are dead, over 3 million Vietnamese were killed? And that’s not counting Korea, Philipines, Mexico, Puerto Rico, most of Latin America, large parts of Africa, South East Asia, the Balkans….

  22. hp said on April 24th, 2008 at 3:44pm #

    The psychopathic Bill Clinton and his vice sidekick ‘environmental Al’ (who bores you to death when he’s not killing you with bombs and/or poisonous radioactive DU) were the ones who championed the new and improved version of imperialism via ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Kosovo(a). The precursor to Iraq.
    Ten years later, Kosovo(a) is just going swimmingly.
    They have as Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, war criminal and aspiring capitalist, majoring in the harvesting and sale of human organs from kidnapped Serb civilians. But that’s OK, they’re only Serbs.

  23. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 25th, 2008 at 4:55pm #

    Thanx, Max. Several paragraphs of your temperate and incontestable history and logic always cool my fevered brow.

    And yes, Cuba happens to belong among the fortunate states where American intervention has always been (largely) by proxy. (Thanx to Fidel’s fearlessness and Nikita Khrushchev’s blinking.)

    What I now think must have been unconscious about my “changing the subject” is a strong sense that the Dalai Lama affair is a greater distraction than Cuba could ever be, from the issues in American in 2008. I mean, can Olympics even be held in Cuba?

    On the other hand, my initial comment didn’t even pertain to Cuba. You see, I think of myself as a poet. Doggeral should be short.