FIRST PLACE https://www.youtube.com/watch?vF96xN0VV7JU The Virus and the Cure by Rob Crisell One hundred years of tyranny, One hundred years of pain and lies. If communists of China win, The Chinese culture dies. No virus spreads like wickedness. No plague infects like bogus creeds. No outbreak lasts a century, Nor’s worse than evil deeds. A virus pierces China’s heart; It kills the Wheel, it kills the Tao. A toxin made in Marx’s mind, And weaponized by Mao. Three decades past, there was a chance— A peaceful group came into view. With truth, compassion, self-control, It made the old ways new. It offered hope through ancient thought. It practiced wisdom, love, and Qi, Exposing communism’s lies And negativity. Departed ancestors gazed down To see a hundred million strong. Siddhartha smiled, Confucius bowed, A new bloom—Falun Gong. The virus, though, lives to destroy All threats to its corrupting power. It starved, abused, attacked the roots, And tried to kill the flower. O, people of the world, take heed! A century is far too long. We must confront this virus now. It’s time to right this wrong. One hundred years of tyranny, One hundred years of pain and lies. If communists of China win, The Chinese culture dies. Rob Crisell is a writer, actor, teacher, and attorney in Temecula, California. After two decades in publishing, national non-profit work, law, and commercial real estate, he’s now a full-time writer, actor, and educator. He is an outside instructor with the Murrieta Valley Union School District where he teaches poetry and Shakespeare. He also teaches at St. Jeanne de Lestonnac School and other area schools on behalf of Shakespeare in the Vines (SITV). He’s the author/actor of Red, White & Bard! A Celebration of Shakespeare in America and Hamlet’s Guide to Happiness: 7 Life Lessons from the Greatest Play Ever Written, one-man shows he has performed for SITV, schools, and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He’s a graduate of Yale University and George Mason University Law School. He lives in Temecula with his wife and their two children. SECOND PLACE The Odyssey of Sunny Guo (a Falun Gong devotee persecuted by the CCP) by Jeff Kemper I foundered ere I found my freedom’s wings And soared from confines of a Broad Expanse To depths unknown within the heart of things Where truth abides with love, and patience rings The bell of freedom, while patrols advance. Constabularies clipped the feathers clean In midflight. And I fell to their assault, Where sentinels and misanthropes convene, And made my bed in confines dim and lean. And then commenced a tortuous tumult: Each eighteen seconds seemed like eighteen years Of injury and pain inflicted by The royal squad to agitate my fears; Expatriate my faith, dispatched in tears; And make me an obsequious ally. For eighteen hours I sat in silence, still, With hands on thighs and open eyes, sustained A random pose for my aggressors’ thrill As they resolved my spirit they should kill. I know not how my sanity maintained. For eighteen months I dined in deepest Hell At the good pleasure of an unseen king. The hellfire burning hot within my cell Was tariff levied by the state-cartel In the reformatories of Beijing. For eighteen years within the Broad Expanse The Serpent’s victims on the altar crawl To be apportioned for the market dance— A harvest crop for medical advance. I barely dodged this lethal protocol! In my own home militias marshaled harm, Attacked, and brutalized my pious peers Whose Sino-Serpent they refused to charm. I’ll bang the gong and bellow the alarm Until that Snake forever disappears. For now I fly with newly feathered wings And soar in confines of a Distant Land Wherein all residents can reign as kings Without a snake that strangles, strikes, and stings; Where patience, truth, and love are never banned. Jeffrey Kemper has been a research scientist, biology teacher, biblical studies instructor, editor, and painting contractor. He lives with his wife, Sue, in York County, Pennsylvania. He has been writing poetry off and on for about 50 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. THIRD PLACE Full On and Still Going by Raymond Gallucci A movement for peace And health to increase Is twenty-year target of Chinese police. The Communist state Cannot tolerate Belief to which citizens dare to relate. Unless it’s aligned As Party designed To blindly conform to the Communist mind. It’s really not new, For Rome saw it too— Inventing a threat from the Christians they slew. The Catholics returned The favor when burned The Cathars and Templars, whom Vatican spurned. Not only in past, Just century last The Nazis decided the Jews must be gassed. It’s no mystery, Throughout history It’s fear of unknown that makes tyrants decree A plan to erase, Leave nary a trace Of something they falsify as a disgrace. Of all that they spout, Should people find out Brainwashing is what this has all been about. So now Falun Gong Has fallen among The movements oppressors declare to be wrong. So they persecute, They torture, they loot Its followers in genocidal pursuit To bring to an end This popular trend, And into oblivion once for all send. But history has shown As far back as Rome When try to eradicate movement, it’s grown Until it’s become Through much martyrdom The victor to which its oppressors succumb. Shoe Biz by Raymond Gallucci The striving for tranquility With tolerance and honesty, Compassionate philosophy, Can thrive in a democracy. But under rulers Communist, A dictatorial abyss, It’s swallowed by a toxic mist Unyielding in oppressiveness. Through torture, lies and even death Has China choked the very breath. A pogrom till there’s nothing left— Its followers of hope bereft. But still the movement carries on Around the world—the Falun Gong Lives even where it’s spat upon, Adherents viewed as carrion. While still alive, may organs lose, Their corpses burned, expunging clues. So easy China’s to abuse Because we love their discount shoes! Raymond Gallucci is a retired Professional Engineer who has been writing poetry since 1990. FOURTH PLACE Its One Mistake by Peter Austin Born in Northeast China, in ’92, Falun Gong, within six years, had become So widespread that the State began to view It as a threat and, neath an iron thumb, Moved to squash it. But it would not lie flat, Despite a barrage of lies, depicting its Sway as perfidious and (worse than that) Likely to lead to addling of the wits And even suicide…. In ’99 (Membership in the ten-millions by then Of a movement altogether benign Though, to the Party, a carcinogen), A campaign was begun to stamp it out Which crescendoed in Tiananmen Square Two years later, and which settled all doubt In the minds of everyone who was there Or saw it on TVs across the nation As to the perils posed by such a cult. ‘It’ was the putative self-immolation Of five members, and in rapid result Falun Gong’s traction slipped out of sight, Despite the act’s exposure as a prank In the West, where it quickly came to light That one of the five was felled with the shank Of a policeman’s gun and, furthermore, One who survived (firetrucks happened to be Oddly close at hand), and who bravely bore An emergency tracheotomy, Interviewed later was heard to quip And sing! What do the Chinese leaders care Of that, though? Thanks to blanket censorship, What happens in the outside world stays there. Peter Austin is a retired Professor of English who lives in Toronto with his younger two daughters. See the complete list of winners and honorable mentions here.