Chinese Cameo 1

Here’s a tale of friends and family—
Near the founding of the CCP,
Zhou Enlai and Sun Bingwen were friends,
both Party members seeking sim’lar ends.

Both heaved and puffed up Party power chains.
Both pulled and pushed to help with Party gains.
Sun died and Zhou took on his daughter’s care
and signed the papers for adopting her.

The Cult’ral Revolution took its course
and Sun Weishi, this daughter, felt its force.
She had her head hard-hammered with a nail
when her thoughts had had her banged in jail.

Before she died, I wonder, did she know—
her warrant for arrest was signed by Zhou.

Zhou Enlai (1898 –1976). Premier of the People’s Republic of China (1949 –1976).
Sun Bingwen (1885-1927). Principal founder of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Sun Weishi (1921-1968). Translator, actor, director and artistic director of several national theatres.


Chinese Cameo 2

Nearly 40 years ago, Big Mao
died. Fearful Chinese cried, “What now?

“We can’t continue!—China won’t survive.”
They moaned, “Our greatest Leader’s not alive!”

Their father figure Mao was mummified.
They dropped their heads onto their chests and cried:

“China’s done for, sunk, our Chairman’s dead.”
They said, “We’re lost, at sea. We’ve lost our Head.”

As these people floundered, grieved, and sighed,
their monster rock star Mao was deified.

And while they wailed, new Party leaders pushed
against each other and the crowds they shushed:

“Now, We are China! Let Our Party grow!”
they shouted, nearly 40 years ago.

Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976). Chinese Communist Party Chairman (1949 – 1976), considered to be responsible for the death of 30-million to 70-million Chinese people in peacetime.


Chinese Cameo 3

Lawyers are articulate and bright.
They ask, they listen, they analyse, they write.
They marshal what there is to know—the facts—
of law—of precedent—of clients’ acts—
to organize the information, state
the sequence of events, balance weight
of argument with evidence. They use
words to clarify and not confuse.
They want to get the facts right. So how come
one of China’s top ten lawyers is dumb
and mumbling? It’s not too simple to simply say
the bench that put this advocate away
is evil. Gao Zhisheng had done such good
it had to nip this mouthpiece in the bud.

Notes: (note the last line)


Chinese Cameo 4

Xi says: “No clampdowns? Then your streets will boil,
stink holes sink and kitchens fill with oil.
The breath of common sense will gasp in rubble
as shaking soil cracks through roads—Big Trouble!”

The Party says: “No Party? Dams will crumble,
muddy puddles will drown the people’s mumble,
frothy riots will rise and skylines fall.
See all the things you’ve gained? You’ll lose them all.”

The people repeat: “No CCP? Then turmoil:
all refrigerated goods will spoil,
manufacture stop, engines stall.
Stability must override us all!”

They turn to making money, don’t hear the rumble—
the giant foot falls of the Party’s stumble.

Xi Jinping (1953 – present). Chinese Communist Party General Secretary (2012 – present).

Sink holes, commercial kitchens using old oil, roads cracking from expansion underneath, the dug-out sides of dams falling, riots, protests and public suicides, skyscrapers falling down, corruption in government and business, are all happening under the present Chinese Communist Party regime; the excuse for much of the repression in China is the need for stability.

Featured Image: Communist leaders including Mao Zedong, courtesy of the Nine Commentaries.

NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here.

One Response

  1. Reid McGrath

    Compelling work Damian. I was just asking Evan where you had gotten to when all of a sudden four awesome cameos came out on the atrocities occurring (or having occurred) in China. Your first cameo has me feeling similarly to how I feel reading Theresa Rodriguez’s poem, “Blessed Margaret Plantagenet Pole.” It is brutal but, like Flannery O’Connor knew, it takes horror to acquire grace. The second cameo is candidly and shamelessly critical of the “dumb, driven cattle” in China (as is the fourth); and the third, I think, is the best poem of the group as far as being well-wrought. But the last poem—oh man—is rock solid. The apocalyptic connotations in it are powerful and it is a great image of the final slide if one were to paint a contemporary Course of Empire. Again, great job, and I hope it is not so long next time.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.