Grass in the desert

I begin my love affair
at night.
Researching a man for a paper,
how could I know
that his affairs
with the government
would become my affairs

We are both of the same origin
both from a corrupt country
i’m diasporic and not proud
he is a dissident and proud
these culture clashes
intersect
like a car crash
after a power cut.

He films documentaries
and photographs himself
reflecting the wide eyed audience
as he drops a Han Dynasty vase
much older than he has lived
and they tell him not to do it
because it feels like
he is rejecting his culture

but that is not the case.

While the city of Beijing sleeps
His mother weeps
for his safe return from whatever
political conflict he has faced
that day.
‘HE IS THE ONLY ARTIST WHO CARES ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR COUNTRY’
his supporters say
chanting his name through the consumerist bitten streets

When he was detained for 81 days,
it was because he
printed the truth on his face.

Rather than stay quiet, he spoke loud and clear
he didn’t say to himself
‘this country’s fine’
because nothing ever happens
without a little ‘push’ from someone

When the 2008 Sichuan earthquake happened
he was there to pick up the pieces of the dead children that were left behind
pencils
colouring books
the tears on their mother’s faces
the strain in their father’s hands
trying to hold back the rain
because when the rain comes
it won’t wash away the death of their daughter
it won’t rebuild the school’s shoddy framework
it won’t change mother nature

but it will clear the stench of decay.

His voice is a voice for change

you cannot fight his rain that comes flooding in
trying to pick up the pieces
to make people acknowledge
that he as rain has a right
to let people know what is cold.

He shows people darkness
otherwise there is no way to smile

in the sunlight
you can see a silhouette of the 7 year old girl who died in the earthquake.
She ‘lived on this earth happily for 7 years’

but even when a girl’s life is gone
the government don’t acknowledge it
try to hide behind surveillance cameras
and prison cells

Do you think you can hide?
With every sunflower seed
every river crab
we will shield ourselves
with our porcelain culture
fragile but strong enough
to illicit a response

You, the government,
are nothing but a coward made of the cheap exports that you market off
as ‘western consumerism’

You, the government, don’t know the difference between right and wrong

When you were a child, didn’t you feel it?

The cogs turned in your head,
right and wrong
good and bad
like they did for your steam train.

You knew enough not to break it.
but now i’m sure
that this is something that your parent’s could never fix

When you took pictures of his baby stroller at the park
he grabbed the camera
and threatened the photographer

When you detained him
and told him he was staying for 10 years
he had no regrets about the needles he chose
to unravel the ‘made in China’ stitches
that you forced upon your motherland

You are a dragon.
You take away everything that is moving, and you leave behind nothing.

You may burn the grass until it is charred

but know this:

You can never truly destroy it,
for when it is spring

the grass becomes green again.

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