In China now are shadows forged from fire,
a DNA pre-history. They cloud
troubled villages, rice fields, goldfish ponds. Stones
form, creating outlines with moving corners
of such mild movements of peace. Finest threads
link, form love that birth-screams, sucks air from smoke.

This China has two hues, crimson and smoke
grey. Falun Dafa too sings of dusk, fire
but in ways of peace, justice, as it threads
elemental patterns in a pearly cloud
of passion glowing China’s dark corners,
pouring radiance into its dull stones.

Mandarin ducks, tiled villages behind stones
are a lotus pulse. There, old men sniff smoke
of martyrs. Falun Dafa, what corners
you turned with deepest love, curative fire,
plumping shrivel, cracking a china cloud
of cockerel combs, unstitching dire threads.

Forever here your abused shadow threads
its way along the streets, stirs ash, gifts stones.
Eyes mellower than bok choy sift a cloud,
sew in one go entire China through smoke
and with fine thread and needle-stars of fire,
darn the tattered universe’s corners.

What did you meet in dangerous corners?
Crackdowns, torture, imprisonment, bad threads
in a warped script. Yours is a tender fire.
It flickers your runes; sacred guides in stones.
Slow as slug-stirs we move into your smoke.
Teacher, you shoot warmth to us through cold cloud.

At dusk, thud thud thud in disturbed storm cloud
– a red dragon stomps demons on corners.
We see you in that Seventeenth Moon smoke
defying abuse, snorting, blowing threads
that start to interlock, turn into stones.
How many demons did you toss in fire?

Tall in your soul smoke in a cosmic cloud
with stars on fire, lotus breath on corners,
we see the sweet threads, Falun Gong of stones.


Sylvia Telfer is an award winning/published poet and short story writer. The most recent award was the Stacy Doris Memorial Award 2015 run by San Francisco State University.

Featured Image: The torture of a Falun Gong practitioner by Zhiping Wang.

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

NOTE TO POETS: 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.


3 Responses

  1. benjamen grinberg

    the torture of one’s mind is what is worst. whether in physical or mental forms it comes. it comes concrete for doing what is right, whether through evil men or evil thoughts it comes. it is still torture, persecution nonetheless. no difference i see in the evil thread. that would attempt to harm kind men and such. that attempt to snuff good’s warming gland.

  2. Benjamen Grinberg

    In the risk of offending, the definition of “sestina”:

    “The sestina is a complex form that achieves its often spectacular effects through intricate repetition. The thirty-nine-line form is attributed to Arnaut Daniel, the Provencal troubadour of the twelfth century. The name “troubadour” likely comes from trobar, which means “to invent or compose verse.””

    That being said, here is the effect I wish to achieve in this “sestina” of comments:

    everything strives for perfection. like every poem is a person. Obviously we can’t change other people, but I find that by communicating with them we change ourselves. For the better. Other than communication, what else is there inasfar as other people are concerned?

    As to this poem, alas,—- so easy to feel pity for others in hard times different from ours. Yet so hard to say a kind word to someone in the seemingly same situation but acting as if their is a torture guard in their mind. Making them do stupid things. Anyone being abused is equally bad. Whether by men or their own wicked thoughts.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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