Everywhere you go is walking under heaven.
In those ruins east of Pusan Road
where the Shanghainese had homes before the Chinese Dream,
in that block of broken houses and farm fields run wild
locked in by that white-washed propaganda-picture-bearing wall,
there where old enamel floorboards
which were someone’s pride some twenty years ago
show a pair of foot-square patches through the rubble
like a pair of perfectly good teeth
from a skull lost in the grass in an old warzone
carried by the ants up on a hill
where on inspection by the ant officials who inspect all things
the teeth were found a useless kind of thing
and so they threw them down,
there God lives on Earth in China,
having left the West for good when finally it got to him
that all his warmth of love for all the world
cannot unsay the saying that
if God lived on earth people would break his windows.
But where is an almighty God supposed to live if not on Earth?
Is the Lord to live in outer space?
Shows how much you people love him!
So God went to live with the good old
domesticated and heartbroken Chinese ghosts and devils
(heartbroken at abandonment by their domesticating ones
who either never read the Little Prince
or never took it seriously
that we become responsible
for the ones we have domesticated)
and there God rented out a home
from the Howling Ghost Real Estate Agency,
a good brick plaster kind of home
with a second-story balcony and all
and a big vegetable patch outside
to potter about in late evenings after work,
last in line nearest the corner with the security booth,
and in the booth there is a paramilitary uniformed guard, guarding
(in case someone might come in order to disturb their dreams, I guess,
with foreign propaganda or a stolen parking space among the reeds,
or must not ghosts and devils also dream the Chinese dream?)
by staring at his screen-phone day and night, the ghosts and devils
who live in that long line of growling, moaning, doorless homes
windowless and full of shapeless rubbish
and dark, oy, when has it ever been so dark
except in the beginning, when the earth was void,
as they say in the book, and shapeless and the spirit of God
moved upon the surface of the deep?
Well, that was in the book, but in real life, a house
with a good wood door, a blue
screen-phone-colored light low in the second-story window,
white Honda sedan parked in the mud outside,
that strange security booth with the paramilitary black-shirt guard inside
installed in symbol of the senselessness of the primeval chaos
by the Bodhisattva who is boss of Howling Ghost,
and an unbarking St. Bernard dog running back and forth along the nearby river
which moves mysteriously like the spirit of God upon the waters:
this is how God lives now in a place
where at least they will not break his windows, where
when curious folks, strangers to the place, come stumbling in the heaps
of to the people once-important
now abandoned rubbish still important to itself,
he goes out on his Chinese motor scooter to investigate.
A balding short old village uncle type
you will not meet much off the mainland,
beer paunch, open black polo shirt
and friendly smile as easy to mistake for a policeman’s
uncomfortable tricks as he himself for a detective
in his black polo shirt with the big rhombus on the left side of the chest
which looks like a police badge in the dark.
And when he offers you a smoke
remember that we meet God’s face in every stranger,
remember and do not do as I did.
I with my fear
that every stranger works for the police.
Do not say, No need.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones