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More poems and contributor notes in Chinese feature

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Louise Shew Wan Ho




Remembering 4th June, 1989


Yes, I remember Marvell, Dryden,
Yeats, men who had taken up the pen
While others the sword
That would have vanished
Were it not for the words
That shaped and kept them.

The shadows of June the fourth
Are the shadows of a gesture,
They say, but how shall you and I
Name them, one by one?
There were so many,
Crushed, shot, taken, all overwhelmed,
Cut down without a finished thought or cry.

Presumably, that night, or was it dawn,
The moon shone pure,
As on the ground below
Flowed the blood of men, women and children.
The stunned world responded, and
Pointing an accusing finger, felt cheated.

But think, my friends, think: China never
Promised a tea party, or cakes
For the masses. It is we,
Who, riding on the crest of a long hope,
Became euphoric, and forgot
The rock bottom of a totalitarian state.

Then, the compact commercial enclave,
First time ever, rose up as one.
Before we went our separate ways again,
We thought as one,
We spoke as one,
We too have changed, if 'not utterly'
And something beautiful was born.

As we near the end of an era
We have at last
Become ourselves.
The catalyst
Was our neighbor's blood.

Whoever would not
For a carefree moment
Rejoice at a return
To the Motherland?
But, rather pick ears of corn
In a foreign field
Than plow the home ground
Under an oppressive yoke.

Ours is a unique genius,
Learning how to side-step all odds
Or to survive them.
We have lived
By understanding

Each in his own way
The tautness of the rope
Underfoot.



A Good Year


Ever an ending that ends so unendlingly
Ever a termination so celebrating
1997 is a good year
No better or worse
Than the year before or after.

Deadly dead lines kill
They freeze the future
Blocking free passage for the present

The air is lambent with
A collective will to succeed
Almost as if to say
With feet firmly planted on the ground
What matters what flag flies above
We are ourselves to a day

1997 is a good year
As good as any year
It is here