Facing the gunmen, he smiled
past the red sun. Chrysanthemums
shivered in the young light, crows
continued to carry moonglow.

No more cold and hunger.
All plums have ripened, more sweet
than bitter. His heart knew song,
it knew grief. And laughter:

Till the seas dry, stones rot.
The pledge was shot into him,

and then the sun wept.
Go, now. Go with the flowing water.

China’s new heroes (or have you
not heard?) are astronauts, pop
singers, and do not need you.
Only the red sun lingers.


Note: Wen Yiduo was a poet gunned down by assassins,
likely sent by Nationalists. Mao Zedong turned Wen
into a paragon of the revolution.


PUBLISHED IN Poetry East West 《诗东西》 (December 2015)