900 Days and Counting

by Richard Hartwell

I have not forgotten Zhu Yufu’s
nine-hundred days, August 21st,
my time, not his, and still counting.

Watching the scrolling calendar,
wondering how Zhu counts time;
maybe scratchings on a cell wall.

Seems too prosaic for such a poet,
composing still, if only in his mind,
poems deemed to seem subversive.

Regard what the State wants broken first:
body, mind, soul, or the power of words
that claw at the throat of suppression.

Repression  ::  Rebellion
Suppression  ::  Subversion
Incarceration ::  Immolation

“Prison diminishes you!” A Western adage
I hope will not apply to Zhu in the East.
It didn’t the first time, possibly not now.

Incineration of his written words
destroys only paper, not his ideas;
those permeate throughout the people.

I have not forgotten Zhu Yufu. Have you forgotten?
Have they forgotten, those he tried to stir to action?
He has served nine-hundred days, and still counting.

The Chinese state believes they have stilled a poet,
but tally marks of converts bode a wind of change.

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