Illustration by Xiaoyao YinLife Under the CCP: ‘Family’ by Damian Robin The Society April 5, 2021 Culture, Human Rights in China, Poetry 18 Comments for Xiaoyao Yin and her UK family Loud thumps were more than company; __front door as thin as any. Mum walked across the noise to see __each thump enlarge to many. Then clumps of feet clacked on our floors __with yaps demanding logins To access private data stores __they’d claw into like dog bins. Though Truth’s held high within my head, __deep set, assimilated, I hid my books inside my bed __away from those who hated. That night my naïve heart fell dead. __My trust was confiscated. 2 My mother is exceptional; __her parents had scant schooling, Yet she was near the pinnacle __of academic ruling Before the persecution fell, __before the mad negation of Falun Dafa’s moral swell __that moved the Chinese nation. They rubber-stamped her “criminal,” __Restrained her body tightly, They boiled her meals to minimal, __her sleep to hardly nightly, But could not break the golden shell __of righteousness lit brightly. 3 My dad was also Falun Gong. __Then came the persecution. Confusion followed deep and long. __No help. No restitution. Relentless hàrassing grew tough __from TV, papers, neighbours. Worn down by terror’s feats more rough __than Hercules’s labours. Without Forbearance, shrank and died __in Evil unforgiving; he bent, he broke, he stepped aside, __he’s somewhere else and living. The space between us far and wide— __a torture rack unwitting. 4 My stepdad’s lost. All’s awkward, new __as though he’s lost his purpose. In China, there was lots he’d do. __Out here he’s odd, a surplus. He beat the state technology, __cut right through blocks, diced danger, Was locked up by the CCP, __but here he’s just a stranger. His English conversation’s crude __so he earns basic wages in Chinese kitchens, there preps food, __repairs his life in stages, Continuing what he’s pursued: __the Truth passed down through ages. 5 I’m now a Scottish refugee. __I prize my parents’ safety. My ease with English kept us free __and in a college lately. Our family daily meditates; __we heed an ancient calling. Our spirit’s one that cultivates, __that rises after falling. Because we all are refugees, __For home we’re always longing But also build identities __And soon find new belonging. Amid life’s harsh realities __the Good alike are thronging. __ __ Damian Robin is a writer and editor living in the United Kingdom. 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) 18 Responses Joe Tessitore April 5, 2021 This is a poem that everyone with eyes to see and ears to hear will take unreservedly to heart. It says it all, and it’s coming to a country near every single one of us. Reply Damian Robin April 6, 2021 Thanks Joe. You are right to bring up the extension of this scenario and many posting here agree. My first attempt at writing about this family was Refugee Though savaged skin has stuck and scared, torn muscle joined and matted, Though shattered bones are bonded hard, new blood replaced what spattered, Though locks away from torture’s key, from slavery’s knuckling tables, Though seeming safe from jeopardy of organ losses’ labels, You’ve found here, too, that Truth is cracked, distorted with denying, That to survive most make a pact in line with Marxist lying, So bad is best, and false is fact and true good Souls are dying. Thanks for being on the side of vigilant sanity, Joe. Reply Joe Tessitore April 7, 2021 Your first effort was equally powerful. Once your eyes are opened for you, how do you close them? How do you turn away? Is it really possible to turn away? Sally Cook April 5, 2021 This poem gives a very vivid picture of what is coming here. Joe sees it; hope many others take heed. Thank you, Damian. Reply Damian Robin April 6, 2021 Thanks, Sally, glad you’re carrying a light on this. I’d become so dispirited by Trump’s disappearance behind the Biden lines of lies that I’m lackluster in looking at a lot of looming great global glooming unless it perks me personally — as I know this lady and her family, it brings the bigger beleagueredness of life closer. Good to know others are still vigilant about the loss-of-liberty stakes in our back(ward)yards and are willing to give the shout. Reply Gail April 5, 2021 As in China, the loudest and–seemingly–most powerful are not truly the majority. The main difference? Here, disenfranchisement is still a choice. Reply Damian Robin April 6, 2021 Thanks for saying that, Gail. A choice that needs constant work. But encouraging that you have pointed this out. Reply Margaret Coats April 5, 2021 Heart-wringing end to the first stanza, Damian, but you go on to depict (repeatedly in each stanza) the resilience of the young girl you are writing about. Pleasant, too, to see her self-portrait with lotus. Good work that covers so much in a simple, direct style. Reply Damian Robin April 6, 2021 Thanks, Margaret. To cover a definition first. And to bang it like a pot or pan out in the open : can a “stanza” include line spaces/returns? They are a resilient family. Also, you mention the lotus. Xiaoyao’s mum has changed her ‘name’ or tag on one of communion apps to 淨蓮 Jìng lián meaning pure lotus. I know she’s read your comment, so maybe you are influencing her. :^) Reply Margaret Coats April 7, 2021 One could refer to your numbered portions of the poem as “sections,” but they fit the definition of stanza from the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetics. “A stanza is a basic structural unit in verse composition, a sequence of lines arranged in a definite pattern of meter and rhyme scheme which is repeated throughout the work.” Your repeated sequence of lines is 14 lines long, including two line spaces in each. And since the smaller portions of 4 lines or 6 lines do not repeat regularly, they are not stanzas. In this situation, the important thing is to speak clearly about structure, so I probably should have said “your first 14-line stanza” and “each of your 14-line stanzas” to be clear. Susan Jarvis Bryant April 5, 2021 Damian, you always manage to bring the cruelty of the CCP to the fore in poetic yet accessible language that drives home how important our freedoms are. Joe highlights the chilling effect of your poem perfectly in his comment above – we should all be taking note of exactly who is hovering at our doorstep and your poetic rendition of Xiaoyao Yin and her family’s plight highlights exactly what’s at stake. Thank you for getting the harsh and unpalatable truth out there, Damian – it’s much appreciated. Reply Damian Robin April 6, 2021 Your comments are much appreciated, too, Susan. It’s refreshing how you pick up the positives and return them in ways that do what you say the poem(s) does(do). If you get my drift. Thanks and let’s stay vigilant. Reply Mo April 5, 2021 Damian, my heart reaches out to you all. Peace to you… And yes, as those wise folks (above) have pointed out, we are not immune from those evils. Peace to us all… Reply Damian Robin April 6, 2021 Thanks , Mo. Keep sending the good thoughts to people. Reply William Conelly April 6, 2021 Daily Family meditation: The Kingdom of Heaven remains within, no matter what’s cooking among the bosses. Reply Damian Robin April 6, 2021 True, William. It’s good to be reminded. Reply David Watt April 6, 2021 Damian, the fact that you wrote this poem from the perspective of personal knowledge makes the lines even more hard-hitting. Freedom is always easier to lose than it is to regain. Reply Damian Robin April 7, 2021 Thanks David. I used to gravitate to films “based on a true story” until I saw the stories bloat into spectacle. Documentaries sometimes have an agenda that leaves out so much it is biased if not untruthful. And what you say is also interesting from the view that what we are told about the poem, its backstory or the poet’s view of it, affect our understanding of the poem and its impact. Thanks for nudging this out. And yes, we must stand ground to not release freedoms that have been fought for through history. 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