Marks And Angles (Draft 4)

An old word on a path
of a thousand miles
just a saying, hurrah

uh damn, just saying a journey
begins with a single faux pas
said Laozi
not Confucius

a word of confusion
a two-step to completion
an old word in subversion —
it takes a contaminated bat,
and a virus to conquer.

China had a plan
and knew fanfares:
peace on the road
to be woven,
friendships for
fair weather, a shrewd
bounty before a storm,

a word in malice
a step,
Jane’s tale
was to fail
in bans pretty soon.

The Wuhan plague
brought chaos, and then

when all the local stores failed
the aristocrats pro temp bought them
and Jane’s requiem began to play, hey

In a word
Jane had gone batty
over the Summer:

older daughter home,
younger daughter beaten
dead by the gangs, and

she had been annoyed by
the constant chants on the speakers
of the Chinese language lessons
mandatory to earn guanxi
as in Nineteen Eighty-Four

But she had enjoyed the fantasy
that fall would be glorious, for
the eldest jumped for joy
when accepted to
a tuition-free school
as good as Harvard, a
part of the Red Ivy League, funded by
a Confucius Friendship Society

Pandora’s virus box
had bats in it for Jane.

Her daughter indulged her
by sending hand-written messages
by snail-mail

It was lonely, and
all of Jane’s neighbors
took the trains out to
the re-education camps.

Her daughter’s letters were
incoherent she began to think,
or was it that she was going mad?

A government grant check
came with a flier
asking her to
memorize the manifestos

Pandora’s virus box
had bats in it for Jane.

Her decline was sealed
the day the grocery store
checked her credit score:
The princeling who owned it
refused to serve her because
she didn’t have enough caution
in social credits for conformity:
a black mark for twice not
wearing a red mask and
not passing her basic
Chinese language test.

All the stores had been
taken over by the princelings
after the coup d’etat, so
Jane had to walk far away
for Amerigo Supermarkets.

Walking was a complicated fate:
she had to hang with
the ‘hood committee
to negotiate with the gangs
just for a safe passage.
(The citizen’s police
had no guns anymore)

Her daughter indulged her
with an incoherent letter,
left off the “love” valediction —
no closing remarks, but
just odd disjointed slogans:
“repentance and confession,”
“remedial Mandarin,”
“Help Mom,” and
“Truly Transform”

The gangs received
new Chicago weapons,
joined the mask militia
or went back to the well

burned the Constitution
in a sunrise red fire
by the dawn’s early light

Proudly, great progress
was hailed without bullets
on the conveyance belt
and hellion roadway

John, offering hope, was long gone.
Pandora’s virus well
had bats in it for Jane.

Well, sitting at a window
Jane without living water
a heart attack

Love China,
or well

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