Seventeen years ago I published this poem in the British magazine TANK. I still recognize the lost and wandering soldier who wrote it, who poked around Beijing’s Summer Palace at the height of the season. Today I feel compelled to give China a leave of absence of indeterminate length, repelled as I am by its murder of human rights giants like Liu Xiaobo (say his name). But still in my head I hear the lowing of Beijing Wanbao! and I recall my friends and students, my landlord Yang, my neighbors. They remain and work, I believe, to make the country better even as I disappeared into an aisle seat on a long-ago United flight. Here’s to those twin poles: courage and cowardice.
“Thus, cyber love comes into being. Many people think of cyber love as so romantic, so true. It seems that more and more people are for it. However I want to say something different. The internet can produce the chance for two hearts to meet, in pure net, and there’s little truth.” One year of Chinese university life in 1999. Via Tank Magazine, read more