We are the Workers and Peasants Red Army,
victorious in the smoky lunacy of 1949.

We shoved those kissers of Imperialist ass off onto their island,
where they may kindly sip tea and go to hell.

Of course, we don't believe in it.
Hell, I mean,
even though we have just slogged straight through it,
men and women together,
blowing our enemies' brains out, hoo rah.

For a while, we had to join forces with them,
because we both hated the Japanese more.
The Flying Tigers came up from Burma and helped us;
each plane with a mercenary white man crammed into its cockpit.

Enough of that.

Now we have kicked tail and this whole smouldering shit pile is ours.
My love and I, both wearing military uniforms and our revolutionary caps,
wandered in a dull moment through the ruins of a museum.

We held hands, rifles slung across our backs.

Miraculously, we found one perfect unbroken vase,
and we turned it in to our commander.
He probably swapped it for cigarettes or sex,
but we did the right thing, we honored our ancestors
and then went back to shoving our bayonets into people's bellies.

In a stolen moment, my love said to me,
"I always think of them as babies.
I think how they had mothers; that someone loved them
and had hopes for them."
Here are your hopes, the glorious Red Army.

I spoke gently in my love's ear.
I said, "Don't. You'll lose your mind, thinking that way."

We have blown limbs and heads off,
all in order to establish a perfect Communist state.
Now, order.
Now, equality.
Now, a great China united in accomplishment and nobility of purpose.

My love is the most beautiful emblem of Chinese womanhood.
Me, I'm the girl who found the vase, and turned it in to our commander,
but we don't tell him, or anyone else, about ourselves and our passion.

There is a limit to the Communist ideal,
run as it is by men who began as farmers and ditch diggers,
and that limit is found hidden in the nerves at the tips and every touch
of our fingers.

for Hannah's challenge at Real Toads


Kerry O'Connor said…
Wow! You tell it like it is, girl! What a brilliantly vitriolic satire, disguised as a love poem - or perhaps it's the other way around.
hedgewitch said…
Love,war,idealism, cynicism, life and death--a chilling amalgam summing up a reality that belongs, as war always does, more to the surreal, or should, anyway. Brutally honest, yet also artful, delicate, and twining in its emotional complexity. Very fine writing indeed, Shay.
Gillena Cox said…
a dark side of tea and you wrote it, applause!!!

much love...
Unknown said…
war is such a dreadful thing ... no one can win the brutallity of kill and bloodshed!!
Hannah said…
I love the power in your, "now," lines and the way you transform such a grim experience of combat into one of compassion and true love. Beautiful sensual closing...

Thank you for joining the challenge, Shay a pleasure to read you! :)
Sioux Roslawski said…
As is always the case, you provide a different view of a foreign country, a long-past era or a completely quirky character.

Great photo, too.
Lynn said…
That photo - oh my. Chilling.

Love that reference "those kissers of Imperialist ass" :)
Mama Zen said…
This is so much where I wanted to go, but couldn't.
Susan said…
In red,
how appropriate. You got me, pushed me howling buttons ....

They had no qualms about bayoneting aristocrats and reactionaries, banning tea, democrats and ultimately scholars, turning in relics of old ideologies--but not themselves! What price safety? Gain a world and lose the soul .... In Nazi Germany, Jewish clans had designated survivors who played along to survive, too. Would I try to witness and survive, would I hope in future to write out the isms I didn't expect them to address now? I expect I am both cowardly and brave enough to do that. sheesh.
Daryl said…
as always i read it fast, then go back and re-read slowly to enjoy the clever words ...

and of course in this instance because i know i will be hungry again in an hour .. ;)
Magaly Guerrero said…
"Don't. You'll lose your mind, thinking that way."
Margaret said…
I am chilled by the contrasts of what war really is like and the love that must be hidden… A "story-poem" only like you can weave.
Margaret said…
I am chilled by the contrasts of what war really is like and the love that must be hidden… A "story-poem" only like you can weave.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
Wowzers. Only you could write something this real, powerful and stupendous. Love the closing lines especially.
cosmos cami said…
Chilling and so solid.
There's a great, compelling juxtaposition between the delicate and intimate and the crassness of war.
The vase is so much like the two lovers.
This should be in a collegiate collecting for women's literary studies.

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