I Am China - Poem by Leo Briones
I am the forty-two year father of five from Raleigh, North Carolina. I stand in the unemployment line in denim overalls and a white t-shirt—shrimp and grits dripping from textile free chin.
I am Mao Zedong huddled among the farmers gathering wheat and rice as an act of vengeance. I descend from the well ridge of Jinggang Mountains one-million strong…over the hill and through the marble foyer of bourgeois arrogance, I have come to claim my ancient inheritance.
I am Confucius channeling the calm and pride of my ancestors…I stand upon the Great Wall and whisper the wise admonition of duty, performance, and obligation to my starving children, as they wait patiently for another bowl of egg dropp porridge and their father’s acknowledgement.
I am Shanghai’s traffic littered with Passats and Beetles, so vast they make me look like a commercial car lot…I am ten million pirated copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory exponentially making billions of Chinese boys and girls happy for the kindness of a blurry thrill.
I am the agrarian, the peasant, the industrial, the Marxist, the libertarian, the information revolution wrapped up in 1.4 billion dots of humanity. I am one fifth of the world gathering a capitalist inertia like Adam Smith invisible hand. I shake the foundation. I shake the foundation. I am China.
I am the boomerang effect of The Great Leap Forward slapping the Theory of Productive
Forces in face like a drunken sailor smacking a cheap whore. The fastest rise to economic might in the history of humankind. I am the entrepreneurial hordes of all the world; Dane, Swede, Japanese, Taiwanese, Spaniard, American all sprinting like love sick teenagers to copulate with my commerce.
I am lost orphan girls of China wandering the countryside in search validity. I am the lost girls of China buried in garbage heaps and the streets of Beijing like mangy Pekingese. I am the resentment of a patriarchal society regulated to one.
I am the Sino-Tibetan tongue of the Tao. I am Mandarin, Shanghainese, Cantonese, Min, Xiang, Gan, and Hakka. I am the ancient people and their dynasties. I am the mythical reality of Xia, the feudal Shang, the invading Zhou, I am the unity and legalism of Qin. I am the majesty and the finality of the Qing.
I am the sewer of clothes for Prada, the stitcher of shoes for Nike, the maker of toys for Mattel and the Great Capital Leap Forward birthing more TVs, DVD players, cell phones from the walls of my capitalist womb than any other nation on earth. I am the maker of parts for Boeing 757 and neophyte explorer of space with rockets launching on my ancient soil.
I am the slow bend of the Whang Phou river meandering through Shanghai like floating space ship. I am the twenty-five dollar a day high-rise worker building the new world.
I am Chiang Kai-shek serving my people to bring modernism and democracy.
I am the generalissimo of all of Chinese; to weak to govern but too strong to be overthrown. I am Chiang Kai-shek with the dragons breath of Mao Tse Teng burning my ass as I swim the China Sea to Taiwan.
I am the people’s army strategically pounding our pots and pans from hill to hill as we purge China of the pesky sparrow, rat, and mosquito. I am the famine of the great leap backward killing tens of millions for the fulfillment of Mao’s madness.
I am Deng Xiaoping conquer of Chiang Kai-shek. I am Deng Xiaoping scrutinizer of Mao Zedong. I am the father of The Four Modernizations of socialism with Chinese characteristics. I am the free market entrepreneur and the bloody students of Tiananmen square.
I am the plastic numbers hanging on a sign at the local gas station reading two dollars and eighty cents a gallon on the signs of Mobile and Shell from Los Angeles to New York City. I am the dragons demand for black gold. I am Wall Street falling like a cliff diver off the Acapulco coast. I am the Yuan indexed against the dollar. When I fly, you fly. When I crash, you crash.
I am one-hundred and sixty cities with populations of one million or more. I am seven of the ten most polluted cities on earth. I spew the brown and soot of NOX. SOX and particulates to fuel global warming in way that makes Chief Seattle cry and Al Gore’s ears steam.
I am Yao Ming. The Houston Rocket. The pride of Shanghai. Seven feet six inches with a set shot like Jerry West and a dunk like a Yangtze thunder storm.
I am one fifth of human kind. A massive mall of human consumers that is being wooed like prospective lovers by every fortunate five hundred lustful capitalists of the world. I have twelve red roses signed by Disney, GE, Nokia, Microsoft, City Bank, Toyota.
I am the crouching tiger, the hidden dragon of Whoba province. The breadbasket of China three gorges long. I am the six hundred foot high and three-hundred and fifty miles long expanse of dammed environmental degradation that will displace more than a one point three million people.
I am the great sucking sound. The slayer of union jobs, of pension, of work place dignity. I am the big-eared Texan telling my fellow Americans, “This is Ross Perot and need to let you know, I told you so. I told you so. You know Ross was right because I told you so.”
I am the twenty-five dollar a day Mexicana maquila worker being replaced by the twenty-five dollar a month eighteen year-old Whong Jou factory worker.
I am the fine Christmas toys of Guttenberg and Munich. St. Nicholas, the reindeers, the Christmas village made with pride and precious. Made in the high standard of our Germanic pride. I am these fine toys, I am these fine toys. All made in China.
I am Karl Marx flipped like a moo shui pancake, the eighteen farmers of Whang Jou pissing on the grave of Mao Zedong. Selling boc choi, soy beans, water chestnuts, green beans at our ancient markets and spreading the wealth the peasant classes.
I am the spoiled nuevo rich kids of Shanghai cruising under my high rise sur-reality, I am the sex girls of Shanghai cruising karaoke bars a big as football stadiums.
I am half of China’s wealth buried in tin cans, stashed behind stonewalls, stuffed in the stitches of cheap mattresses. I am the vendors of Beijing, Shanghai, Yang Jo pitching chotskys and Buddas in a desperate attempt to jump from abject poverty to just desperate poor.
I am the working girls of Shun Gen living twelve to a room, working seven days and seventy hours a week until finally I can take it no more. So I spread my legs for prosperity, sing Karaoke, smell the bad breathe old crusty foreigners and then with more Yuan that I could ever image I return to my village hoping for hope of matrimony.
I am the Fulang Gong disciple meditating in the village square for peace, temperance and tolerance. I am the Fulang Gong conscience of China proclaiming that the human being is more important than hurried prosperity. I am the students of Tein a Mein Square crying freedom in front a red army tank.
I am your faucet, your carpet, your shower head, your bamboo floor, your TV, your blow dryer, your razor, your cell phone, your paper towels, your plastic spoons…watch your label, watch your label…watch me I am China.
I am the forbidden city, I am the forbidden city resurrected.
I am the spirit of my ancestors, I am the spirit of my ancestors manifested.
I am the ancient, I am the ancient, the ancient made anew.
Wo shi zhong guo,
I am China
Wo hui lai,
I have return
Wo shi zhong guo,
I am China
Huan ying wo
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