Ron Riekki

Chinese Dissidents

Cai Lujun

He was born in Feixiang County and by born
I mean that he was the first person in China
ever to be arrested for posting articles
on the Internet and by arrested I mean death
or the death of exile after three years in prison
for incitement to subversion and by that
I mean that we all should think about running
and by running I don’t mean for government
but from government or to government
or the gap that occurs between government
and what the governed meant

Liu Di

Stainless Steel Rat became a symbol for democracy,
the rat of democracy, the democracy of rats, the demons
of cats, Stainless Steel Mouse clicking her way
into the psychology of China, not normal at all
at Beijing Normal University and the universe
sees the crackdown on Internet content in order
to control the order of order and gain control
over content so that everyone feels content
even when they’re not content or included
in the content of the web in China, blocked,
as if Liu Di never existed, but she does here,
freed from Qincheng Prison in Beijing, waiting,
scathing like Maus, refusing to bathe in tar

Wang Dan

The most wanted man after the Tiananmen Square
massacre, he went into hiding, but was found,

as they do, you see, when you play hide-and-seek
in China there is a game called prison that waits

for you to be arrested again for conspiring to over-
throw the government and the thing is it’s going

to happen, you can feel the time bomb ticking
and the Chinese government knows it’s going

to be eventually overthrown the way that you throw
a piece of garbage too hard and it hits the wall

and bounces in the garbage can and if you think
this poem is volatile, you need to listen to the words

of Wang Dan, memorize the words of Wang Dan,
repeat the words of Wang Dan, learn the words

of Wang Dan, and the harsh living conditions
of the prisons are the harsh dying conditions

of the prisons and I worked with a little boy named
Jason who is going to end up in jail eventually

and a friend told me about the decapitations
they made him watch in prison and the man

in the park walked up to us and showed us
the missing limbs and told us remember

with the quiet of the ghost father of Hamlet
and the secret is that Jason is already in prison

and it’s called the country of China
where he is doomed to walk the earth

but with a limp from being hit by a car
and the dead of Tiananmen are walking up

to you in your sleep to whisper too

Ron Riekki's books include U.P. and The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (Wayne State University Press). He also encourages you read as much as you can about the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989.
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