Two thousand and five

Moments long past
come forth, afresh
as if they arose
incorruptible, from the crypt
oblivious to the passage of time
each year since no more than
a mild nuisance

the bell rings on the dot
clear as dappled dew in the shade
8:30, first period geometry
on top of the hill, seven staircases up
the first day of the rest of my lfie
on an August day, unsure if school
means that summer weather is now
somehow improper

a continent, an ocean, a decade apart
yet no more distant than
the tips of my fingers

You can’t unspill blood

Bill Weinberg writes today about the incredibly tight security in and around Tiananmen Square, along with preemptive arrests of the types of Chinese citizens that might think about doing a public vigil for the massacre’s 25th anniversary.

As he points out, such over-the-top security is in itself self-defeating. He writes:

The absurd security measures speak to the ultimate futility of trying to suppress the truth this way. The virtual shutting down of the square was itself a perverse and paradoxical commemoration of the massacre on the part of the authorities. Presumably, it caused some children to ask their parents what all the police patrols were about, ironically facilitating the passage of historical memory on to the next generation—even if those children received only veiled and guarded answers. If they were hushed by their parents, this would only serve to heighten their curiosity, and plant seeds of doubt about the morality of the system.

The Tiananmen, 2005
The Tiananmen, 2005

The Los Angeles Times has a feature about what the Square was like – police everywhere, aggressive interrogations, complete blockades for any journalists who looked curious.

This whole scenario shows to me how difficult it is to destroy any memory of 1989. Even if Chinese citizens in Beijing do not know the details of the reform movement and its fate, they know that the government remembers something. One does not radically increase security around a certain date each year by chance. Even if this whole round of arrests and intimidation keep what’s in the black box inside, no one can deny that there is a black box. And it holds something. Some of us have the luxury of knowing a few of the details, but for a foreigner this isn’t part of my national history. It’s one component of 20th century protest, and fits in alongside Poland, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, and all those other democratic surges of the late 1980’s and early 90’s. I don’t walk past the Square every morning. My June 4th wasn’t like the tourists from other parts of China who showed up and didn’t know why security was so intrusive. The black box sits in the middle of one of the largest plazas on Earth. No matter what the Chinese state does, it will insist upon itself.

You can’t unspill blood.

Tiananmen on June 4th, 1989 happened. Huge numbers of Chinese participated and survived. Some of the most riveting news photography was taken and published all over the world. People remember. Mother Jones reminds us how young and jubilant these protesters were. Overall all of China there were all segments of society, but the lifeblood in Beijing were kids. Many of whom were younger than I am now, turning 24.

You can’t unspill blood.

Tiananmen Square is the site of a tragedy, even without a single protester reminding, or informing passersby. The government is fighting reform and pro-democratic movements, both within mainland China, in Hong Kong, and all over the world. But it’s also fighting a war against the past. Though economic vitality has been used as a salve for political tension, it cannot work forever. One day the catch-up will end, and China will have the same problems all developed countries have with their pasts.

Shadow seller

Custom-tailored, flexible
a quality fit for every soul-
joyous, tormented, stuck
dazed, as the sun bids good morrow
then slides towards a perfunctory goodbye

Durable, versatile,
solar-powered
low-maintenance
fashion-forward
black is always
the new black!

Ample storage for all
past memories
mortal fears
easy, instant playback for
long walks alone

Loyal to a fault,
a lone companion
until, in the dark
it finds many friends

it’s a deal you can’t refuse.

In the instant, it’s real to me

Is it madness
when in moments of unrivaled clarity
the cosmos drops its shy façade
to speak, candidly
to me and
me alone?

Is it madness
when the thoughts of every soul
living and dead turn to aether
and diffuse into my conscious, now
so sensitive that each time the Earth
breathes
it tingles, a billion pinpricks
against the skull?

Is it madness
when before a great tree
in an instant I relive its thousand-year past
learn its pain and cherish its triumph
knowing that those that came first
gave it a name
long lost
except to me?
I know it, I know all.
I know it, I know.

Sometime soon all this knowledge will
dissolve into pieces so fine
that no hands could put them back in
their rightful place, in glory.

Is it madness?
Is it joy, beauty?

It isn’t real
except in the moment
it is to me.