. FIRST PLACE https://youtu.be/F3aTnHiJ4yU . 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. . . SECOND PLACE . https://www.youtube.com/watch?vGI5EWJb0-e0 . 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. . . THIRD PLACE . 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. . . FOURTH PLACE . 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. . . 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 . . .