You think with his death there will be the trembling
of heaven and earth,
but no, only silence coming
from the furrowed field, where
He’d been yoked like a beast
who was never known
to modern machinery.
He fought once,
twice maybe, but the weight of too much
history crushed him, too many orders
from those who brandished the whips.
In the end, he was tossed into the Yangtze River,
a long time ago, when the industrial slogans flew
like conjuring flags
above the odor of death.
The sordid land,
once bearer of all the sweat and blood
and hope, looked away from too hot a sun
at night — morning would surely
fake a few tears.
There were no more beasts, you said,
only man to obey and surrender to a force
not so natural—
an organized force,
a ponderous structure above you and me.