We were making revolution when the phone rang.
Hello, it's Lionel Richie here, taking you
to a past you never knew. Characters in horizontal strips
construct a street: Shanghai's longtangs fan out in zig-zag networks
while at noon in the capital all the shadows run north.
A dry look with frosted hair, he takes solace in wine:
'Who now can tell a common Magpie Flower
from a Phoenix-headed White or a Purple Jade wing?
And whatever happened to Brother Swallow,
banished to Hainan Island all those years ago?'
Come and see the dragon's blood oozing out of the city's
punctured walls, they say. Stacked for removal, chipped tiles
are ripe for recording. Here are manicured pines for the poet in you,
and for your kids we put the monkeys in zoos. 'These strangers
without ancestors', he says, 'When will they return home?'
In a browning photograph, a string of camels
laden with imperial gifts steps warily through the city gate
as the Northern horseman smells the leak of imperial air.
In Lu Xun's courtyard, wild grass forces space
between the pavers. New shoots of ivy bloom
rose, rust, sunset and cherry on the weathered wall.
Then: 'Five or six beggars from god knows where,
stretching their dirty hands towards me –
are these citizens of the capital?' Adding a third hand
to each watch, this is reform.
Outside the Workers' Stadium, kites fly higher than flags,
hollowing white blanks from the brown wash.
'Are the people of Huihsien County still doing fine?'
Gobi dust is a remainder that sticks in your throat, but so
is the faint vanilla aftertaste of silver-tipped jasmine tea.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTCOMING SOON with Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith 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