|"Dragon" from the museum at RISD|
I could have finished the collection but found it so good, so interesting--I held off--did the old savor, as in I'm savoring these poems and don't want the collection to end.
Both narrative and historical, successfully imitative of a cultural voice (Ha Jin's country, true), Wreckage, by way of persona, relates an historical culture of Chinese emperors, with echoes in the present.
Mongol intrusion and coups, an everyday of history; stupidity of bureaucracies, another everyday; human folly. All play out.
Here, from the second-to-last section, Between Heaven and Earth, is "Questions."
After lay Buddhist Aina
Lord of Heaven, how old are you?
Why have you no eye or ear
for our troubles?
Where's your forked grumble?
Those who kill, steal and bully others
bask in honor and security.
Those who follow your scriptures
are cold, starved, trampled.
Lord of Heaven, how can you govern
the earth like a fool
and let officials multiply
more than laborers and taxpayers?
Better if you were not there.
What a useless scarecrow you have
become, that rots in evil winds.
Why don't you topple down?
Ha Jin, Wreckage (Hanging Loose Press), 2001.