john tiong chunghoo

(Jan 21,1960 / NEW YORK)

A Chinese Cemetery


smoke trails the sky
over the cemetery

hell money burns
casting a misty layer
between this world
and the next

but not its reality
even after death
you need money
they reckon

stacks and stacks
they burn
every stack twenty million
everyone wants
their late next of kin
to be billionaires
to be rich

of course they wish
in turn they would
be made rich too
through their proxies
in the next world

at funeral they would
even burn paper mercedes
rolls royce, bungalows
computer, washing
machine, television set

well you name it
they have it
for the departed
need them like
they were still alive

they had buried
their dead but never
their memories

they trail the smoke
to the hearts of
the departed
a thin line between
this world and the next

after the visit,
they would go back
to wait for dreams
in case they have
done things not correct
for the hereafter

here among the old
and new graves
the tended as well
as the less tended
it takes only a little plastic
bag to send ripples
of sadness in the
lake of my heart

a little bag that leans
onto the base of
a gravestone
like a child in the bossom
of a granny
holding so much love
with its groundniuts,
chinese olives and sweets

the little bag carries
so much of affections
this world and the next
it bursts the seams
of my emphathies for
perhaps one little child
who has promised to
be back at granny's side
every year

i could almost hear
a child sob; 'Granny,
take care, I will be back
the next all souls.'

Submitted: Saturday, June 28, 2008
Edited: Saturday, June 28, 2008
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