How long will it take to sink in
the romantic place of my dreams,
smiling peasants in rice paddies
hesitant strangers begging for a taste of truth
proud business men—not yet defeated by the West
never existed.

Rather the cruel evil destroying
womanhood’s beauty too quickly
robbing of childhood’s innocence
with men beguiled by power and gold
is what has always been

under the surface
veiled in the art of Ming
the philosophy of Confucius
the false placidity of Buddha.

Perhaps it is the prayer wheels spinning in a breeze
or paper money too quickly lost in smoke
or the deep sounding gongs pounding
to chase away evil spirits
in whom no one believes anymore
that call to me—
underneath the veiled veneer
the longing for something more
so very different from, and yet
so very much


(21 August 1995)