Qing Dynasty jade turtleTwo Poems Critical of Communist Regimes, by Brian Yapko The Society November 12, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Deconstructing Communism, Human Rights in China, Poetry 14 Comments On a Turtle of Broken Jade The tiny turtle made of milky jade Was smuggled by Jun’s parents from afar Evoking memories that flame and fade— Confucian virtue rescued from the war. The treasured heirloom tucked into a bag But dropped amidst the panic at the pier. “Revolution comes! We must not lag!” The jade survived. Jun’s parents held it dear. But how it cracked when it and China fell! Unlucky since the turtle holds the Earth Upon its back. With paste, may it last well And witness the ancestral land’s rebirth. This turtle’s precious still despite its cracks. It wears its past—a trait Jun’s homeland lacks. Regretting Red October I lived in Petrograd until the War (My soul forbids I call it Leningrad!) My wife and youngest daughter fled to France But Katya stayed. The Party made us farm. I’ve lost much weight. As well, two toes to frost. A music scholar once but suspect now— A former member of the bourgeoisie Banned by the Commissariat of Art, Who called my music weak and decadent. Shunned because I would not twist the truth. The truth that revolution is a plague Destroying culture, friendships, nations, lives; That forcing minds with blood does not avail; To rape one’s faith and conscience is a sin; That ideology must not kill truth. But what is truth? they ask displaying guns, These hit men for the proletariat. Our Czar they murdered with his queen and heirs; So many others slaughtered or enslaved… A sea of vodka could not numb the pain. Tchaikovsky’s music has been torn to shreds The nobles have been pushed into the dirt. Cathedrals burned, the best minds forced to flee, Or forced to profess enemies as friends. The ghosts of many martyrs haunt this land. I pray the world accept what’s true and real. The wrong behind this Bolshevik ideal: They tear apart this land in which they dwell. Then damned, demand we join their reign in hell. I pray to see the turning of the wheel. Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 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 email@example.com. 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. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 14 Responses C.B. Anderson November 12, 2020 Outstanding work, Brian. I particularly like to read poems in which the parts of the train of ideas are syntactically well connected through the use of proper punctuation; I don’t care for dangling sentence fragments. The only incidence of this is the last line of the second stanza in the second poem. What do you say to that? In the second poem, as well, I liked the sprinkling of end rhyme in an otherwise fine piece of blank verse. Reply BRIAN YAPKO November 12, 2020 Thank you very much! Reply BRIAN YAPKO November 12, 2020 As for the dangling sentence fragment, point taken. A semi-colon would have worked better than the period after “dwell.” Reply Joseph S. Salemi November 12, 2020 Kip, that entire second stanza is one where the main verbs of being are ellipsed. This is an uncommon (but effective) rhetorical device, though I can’t recall its technical name right now. There’s some of it also in the first poem about the jade turtle (lines 5 and 6, where he has past participles, but no verb of being). About the second poem — everything connected with Communism, Marxism, socialism, communitarianism, or collectivism or anything else of that disgusting nature is fixated on the destruction and debasement of civilization. No exceptions. Reply BRIAN YAPKO November 12, 2020 Thank you for your thoughts on these. Reply C.B. Anderson November 12, 2020 If I could live my life over, Joseph, I would specialize in grammatical linguistics, if only so that every technical term would flow from, and not just be stuck on, the tip of my tongue. I find the peculiarities of expression in the English language endlessly fascinating. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant November 12, 2020 “On a Turtle of Broken Jade” is an exquisitely crafted sonnet that has captured my imagination and my heart. The mindful, beautiful and poignant comparison of the broken, treasured heirloom with the fall of China is a masterstroke. “Regretting Red October” reads like an epic tale of history’s cruelty within the brevity of an admirably crafted poem that all should read for greater clarity of exactly what the Western world has to lose. Mr. Yapko, it’s been an absolute privilege to read your work. Thank you! Reply BRIAN YAPKO November 12, 2020 Wow, Ms. Bryant, thank you! Reply Katy November 12, 2020 I enjoyed reading these, especially ‘Regretting Red October’. Thank you. Reply BRIAN YAPKO November 12, 2020 My pleasure. And thank you! Reply Mike Bryant November 12, 2020 A great combination of history, creativity and perspective. Reply BRIAN YAPKO November 12, 2020 Thank you! Reply Amritavalan November 15, 2020 I enjoyed reading both these poems…the jade turtle ended on just the right note. The Red October poem was also thought provoking and the flow was really wonderful. Reply Margaret Coats November 18, 2020 Good poems! “Regretting Red October” has an intriguing structure with stanza 3 as the “truth stanza,” packing significant truths into a small space. Following that, the remaining three stanzas each end with a different but highly meaning simple sentence. It flows quite well. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.