For this assignment, Reuben wanted us to reach into the past and find an important figure or figures and place them in contemporary time. It was an interesting exercise considering the vast pool of choices we all had. Some chose musicians, some presidents, some mythical figures, I chose a great aunt of mine and the famous Tank man of Tiananmen Square.












Every once in a while I feel like sometimes I’m
witness to a clueless, impractical display of knowledge

proud Che t-shirt from overstock.com
pocket manifesto nestled comfortably in a pair of Gap cargos
pinot noir with all the bread you can eat

but what they have to say
words spilling all over a gray theory
isn’t nearly as disturbing as what Doug had to say
quietly and discreetly in his yellow pressed shirt

he said it never happened…

at this point I suppose the red rising to the surface of my skin,
forcing me to escape to an island of my own
akin to what relatives of mine did so long ago,
is not really happening either

maybe in 1967
great auntie didn’t choose to stay
then find herself behind bars
fear gripping a glass vial hidden in her hands
maybe she was not a doctor for women,
an intellectual
a class above the rest
the Red Guard on its way

and maybe in 1989 (like Doug says)
he never stood there
small man before metal monsters
tiny self shooing away Goliath with flimsy shopping bags
narrow eyes wide with courage
ten thousand years standing firm behind him 


maybe then someday those two will show up
democracy in their deaths
and their ghosts will sit across from Doug
she will speak of teachers, writers, artists
re-education prisons, little red books like butcher knives

and he will speak of the aspiring students
would be teachers, writers, artists
wounded and dead, little red books like bullets

and then maybe I will simply enter into the doorway
with a tray of tea and offer each my thanks steeping in the hot water and Doug will have to refuse because the blood in his face
is now draining as I catch sight of his great wall
finally crumbling under his sudden kowtow at the truth.