“August 2012 Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China” by Aaron Lee Moore

“Long life chairman Mao!”
Is the only English
My Sichuan girlfriend’s mother can say.


I went to see him in August 2012,
That waxen preserved fecund
Sleeping soundly in his quartz crystal coffin.


Another sweltering day
In Tiananmen Square
Where dynasts once and future reign;
Where I witness the frozen corpse
Of an idea.


I read a book or two
On the communist’s Long March
And naturally invested
In a novel underdog story.


I have seen the bullet holes in brick
At Kai-shek’s temporary headquarters
In Xi’an,
Heard tell of the heroism of Marshal Zhang Xueliang
During the Xi’an Incident,
Former drug addict Manchurian warlord,
Who spent the rest of his life in exile
For doing one right thing.


Perhaps I’d stood in the world’s longest line
–A sunny pilgrimage riddled with
Complacent smiling Chinese faces.
We sauntered our short lengthy march.


A sundry pack of poor peasants,
Bowed and scraped,
Chucked peach blossoms onto a pile
Within Mao’s magnificent mausoleum,
To wither and senesce with all the other
Sweetly scented novel ideas,
Quietly yearning for immortality.







Aaron Lee Moore is a doctoral candidate in Sichuan University’s Comparative Literature program and recipient of a Full Chinese Government Scholarship. Two years prior he was a Peace Corps university English teacher serving in Xindu, China. He received an MA in American Literature from Florida State University where he specialized in Faulkner Studies and received a BA in English from Radford University. He is also the chief editor of a print literary magazine, Floyd County Moonshine, which has been in production over 6 years. He grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Floyd, Virginia.