A disturbing riddle was told to me:
“The city of evil that starts with ‘B’
That has six more letters after that one,
Will be, by bloody tragedy, undone.

“The nations all love this mighty city,
Not in their words, but in reality;
The city fills the nations with their vast goods
Made of rare earth metals, steel, glass, and wood.”

“Babylon!” I said to the riddle’s voice
The Bible’s doomed city seemed a good choice;
It was written long before I was born:
“The merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn.”

“No,” the voice answered flatly to my guess
“I said ‘will be undone,’ the future tense.
This place kills Falun Gong practitioners
And flouts the laws of the world’s four corners.

“The right to believe is taken away;
Millions of followers of Truth and Way
Are tortured and, at its behest, slaughtered;
Billions brainwashed to comply with horror.

“All nations’ kings (their presidents) sat by
And watched the Olympics, with no outcry;
The U.S. cares not for human rights there
If trade with Babylon seems to be fair.”

I yelled, “Wait! You said Babylon was wrong.”
The voice countered: “A symbol in a song,
I’ll use Pompeii, New Orleans, Port-au-Prince
If you prefer words a little less minced.

 

Written for July 20, 2013, upon the 14th anniversary of when the persecution against Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) was launched by the Chinese Communist Party on July 20, 1999. 

Evan Mantyk is a poet and English teacher living in New York.

Featured Image: “Angel of the Revelation” by William Blake.

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4 Responses

  1. Bruce Dale Wise

    Blake’s Angel of the Revelation

    The Angel of the Revelation made by William Blake, espied,
    is thirty-nine by twenty-six full centimeters long and wide,
    a watercolour pen and ink that’s over trace graphite.
    The angel, standing on the land and sea, is brilliant, white.
    Saint John observes some seven riding, bearded men astride
    their horses at the very base of th’ angel’s sheer cape’s glide.
    The angel stands, his feet in flames, before gold sun. His right
    arm and his hand he holds up high. His form is bathed in light.
    This vision’s sight is an extr’ordinary journey’s ride.
    The scroll is eyed. The question is to write or not to write.

    Reply
  2. Bruce Dale Wise

    The Angel of the Revelation
    for the memory of William Blake

    And then I saw another mighty angel come
    down out of heaven, having been wrapped in a cloud.
    A rainbow was upon his head. I was struck dumb.
    His countenance was as the sun. O, I was cowed.
    His feet were fire pillars burning brightly at the strand.
    Within his hand he had a scroll he had unrolled.
    He placed his right foot in the sea, his left on land.
    His voice was great, as is a lion’s when it roars.
    He roared aloud with seven thunders to command!
    I was inspired to write, o, Lord, those words that soared;
    but then I heard a voice with heavenly aplomb,
    say, “Seal this—what the thunders said!” I would, I swore.

    Reply

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