A Series of Short Poems About the Chinese Invasion (1952)

by Simon Jacobs

I. “This Ain’t No Land of the Rising Sun”

the revolutions,
& where they started
under oppressive scorching heat
at the beginning of the day.

II. “Rare New Forms of Bacteria”

An old newspaper
brown & faded with age
reads, as if hysterical satire:
“Beware the Eastern Threat!”
If only we’d known.

III. “Vestigial Organs”

The words “puppet state,”
said over breakfast,
conjured gruesome images of split-armed marionettes
come to snatch boys like me & take them away
in airships.

IV. “No-Fly Zones”

A solitary zeppelin
purring on the orange horizon,
nosing gently at the air,
a slothful, harmless animal,
pouring leaden death from above.

V. “Everything Was Clear for a Moment in Time”

Communication standstill,
stealth planes only
creeping metaphorical tides of red.
Until they weren’t.

VI. “Pachysandra in the Atomic Garden”

For the sake of diplomacy
negotiations failed.
For the sake of peace
they went to war.

VII. “Maoist Punks Are the Worst!”

Banners painted thick with crude portraits and slogans.
The rain doesn’t dissolve the paint—
curiously, the water cannon does.

VIII. “Traces of Black Magic”

He always knew
when the trains had just left the station;
slick concrete, where the steam condensed,
or red flags flickering in the distance.

IX. “Victorian Futurism”

My grandfather said, “We could go underwater,”
my father said we didn’t have the means.
My grandfather replied by unrolling a dusty set of blueprints;
a machine to take us there, he said.