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FIRST PLACE

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Amends to the Innocent

by Brian Yapko

Dear Falun Gong, I owe you my amends.
I heard but would not listen to the sighs
Of battered souls I should have known as friends.
An Evil which I failed to recognize
I fed with foolishness. My spirit bends
To you, to never more ignore your cries.

I squandered gold. My clothes, my lamps, each tool,
And picture frame and every useful thing
I bought from tyrants. Stingy like a fool
I only thought of dollars. Everything
I purchased gave them leave to be more cruel;
For “Made in China” hides a vicious sting.

I warped my conscience. I did not pay heed
Or try to help although I heard you moan
In grief and anguish from each wretched deed
Of torture by cruel sadists. Vein and bone
Were bled and broken, genocide decreed
By soulless, faithless thugs with hearts of stone.

I traveled to the Middle Kingdom twice
For entertainment, not for education.
I sipped their tea. I ate their duck and rice
And all the while ignored their desecration
Of human souls. I paid a Judas price
And helped support a persecuting nation.

I closed my heart to you. I gave no care
For Falun Gong across a distant ocean
Defaced, defamed within a dragon’s lair.
Of persecuted souls I had no notion.
My callow selfishness is now laid bare
As I bear witness to your brave devotion.

The future summons me. I failed before
To stand for right, a spoiled moral sieve.
But there are many battles yet in store
And many friends who yet may get to live.
My pen and heart are primed to fight this war.
They’re yours if you’ll accept them. And forgive.

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SECOND PLACE

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A Villanelle for Falun Gong

by Bethany Mootsey

The world dismisses simple right and wrong.
Like newsprint, black and white are obsolete.
Still, evil surges, sinister and strong.

“The truth is what you feel,” croons every song.
Consumers catch its pitch and press “repeat.”
The world dismisses simple right and wrong.

Just take a look at China’s Falun Gong.
Its tenets hold no danger to defeat.
Still, evil surges, sinister and strong.

They place practitioners in cells, prolong
Their pain, and while their parts are minced like meat,
The world dismisses simple right and wrong.

A practice that once drew an eager throng
Has dwindled due to forcible retreat.
Still, evil surges, sinister and strong.

When faced with false notes, will you sing along,
Or will you scream and stand up in your seat?
The world dismisses simple right and wrong.
Still, evil surges, sinister and strong.

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THIRD PLACE

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Falun Gong and the Beast

by Maura Harrison

The nature of the cosmos never changes:
It’s always breathing tolerance in those
Who exercise the truth, who seek exchanges
Within compassion, virtuous repose.
They stretch and open up a thousand arms
Of energy, a standing stance of strength,
Absorbing cosmic good, expelling harms,
Ascending with pure heart, divine at length.

The nature of corruption stays the same:
A rough and soulless beast who can’t abide
The flicker of a thousand holy mirrors
Because reflected is his ghastly shame.
The brute is tortured, so he tortures. Pride
Pooling its karma in the blackest tears.

In each new age, the vicious beast comes round,
The brutal cog that turns the lawless wheel.
Today, it turns the CCP, the sound
Of persecution howling as they steal
And harvest organs from practitioners
Of Falun Gong. With fatal “transformations”
Of prisoners, the vile commissioners
Of crime lick hell and feed on dank ablations.

My friends of Falun Gong, the universe
knows you’re mistreated in the worst of ways.
Continue to maintain your peace, the balm
Of souls. Console your torturer. Converse
And sing the truth to smaller beasts and praise
The thousand breaths that fuel the soothing calm.

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FOURTH PLACE

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Honor’s Song  

by Susan Jarvis Bryant

I smell the Dragon smolder on the breeze.
I hear its talons scraping at the door.
I feel a gnawing shiver of unease
Torment my bones with all that I abhor.

I know the Dragon steals the very breath
Of those who will not melt within its roar.
I know it feasts on fruitful spoils of death—
Brave blazing hearts snatched by its razor claw.

The peaceful voice of reason told me so.
The stoic words of truth shone crystal light.
I know the torture heroes undergo—
I’m sickened by their devastating plight.

I feel the Dragon skulking just beneath
The fabric of our torn and ragged world.
I see its scaly form and jagged teeth—
I know its wings are wicked and unfurled.

Let’s draw upon the strength of Falun Gong
To beat the beast that silenced honor’s song.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Honorable Mentions can all be viewed on the Friends of Falun Gong website here.

“I Am Not We Anymore” by Emma Yan

“And Finally They Came For ….” by Cynthia Erlandson

“Choices” by Lucia Haase

“Will They Ever Learn” by Allegra Silberstein

“The Great Wall of China” by James A. Tweedie

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12 Responses

  1. Damian Robin

    Congratulations poets, all.

    I look forward to reading . . .

    Reply
    • Damian Robin

      BTW this is Falun Dafa Day, celebrating 30 years since Falun Gong was introduced to the public by Li Hongzhi.

      Reply
  2. jd

    All excellent in their own way. The Villanelle is one
    of the best I’ve read. Congratulations to all.

    Reply
  3. Paul Freeman

    Wow! Worthy winners, all.

    Is there any chance that the honourable mentions can be published individually on the site?

    Brian’s poem reminds me of many years ago when we were looking in class at Japan’s emergence as a electronic gadget producing giant. The book we were referring to was a few years old. I asked my students (who also studied maths) where their calculators were made. They all said ‘Japan’, and when I asked them to take them out and check, one was Malaysia, the rest ‘Made in China’. The growth of China as a major producer and exporter of electronic gadgets was indeed stealthy.

    Thanks for the excellent, thought-provoking reads.

    Reply
  4. The Society

    Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who participated! Even if your name did not appear here, your contribution is part of this meaningful effort. These were judged by me and staff from Friends of Falun Gong.

    Excellent question, Paul! You can view the Honorable Mentions’ poems on the Friends of Falun Gong website. I’ve added it above as well.

    https://fofg.org/competitions/2022-poetry-competition-winners/

    Evan Mantyk
    SCP Editor

    Reply
  5. Brian Yapko

    I’m thrilled and deeply humbled by this honor — especially when all of the other placing poems and honorable mentions are so moving and brilliant. I’m grateful that we can all stand together and do something meaningful in support of a very important cause.

    Reply
    • James Sale

      Well done Brian – well done all – but especially well done Brian for the total consistency of your output. Impressive, most Impressive (quotation source: Darth Vader)

      Reply
      • Brian Yapko

        Thank you, James! I always enjoy a gratuitous Star Wars reference!

    • Margaret Coats

      Brian, your penitential psalm shows how everyone (not just participating poets) can do something meaningful. I believe your winning first place means you have surely won the acceptance asked at the end of the poem. And I think practitioners of Falun Gong joyfully offer forbearance and forgiveness to all who change their ways of life so as not to support persecution.

      Reply
  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful, worthwhile contest. The more people we can make aware of these inhumane atrocities the better. I am thoroughly impressed by every entry, but this year’s winning poem is exceptional. It says everything many feel with linguistic skill, poetic aplomb, and heartfelt sympathy for the plight of the Falun Gong. Congratulations to Brian, and everyone who took part.

    Reply
  7. Allegra Silberstein

    I am so happy that my poem received an Honorable mention for it was written from my heart going out to the Falun Gong.

    Reply

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