Chinese Village - 1960

Thin rags stuffed with straw we wore

in that terrible winter of 1960

Grass tying it around our bony bodies

Neighbours shuffled through the village

fell dead as dolls asleep  in the street

Doll-like remained unburied in the cold


Silence frozen on the careless air

The last ox eaten as it died

Fowls and ducks taken by The Party

no grain being left to pay the tax

No birds sang in the trees

No rats or mice were left to scratch


Trees standing leafless  barkless

Grass stripped from ground it grew in

Rat stew and song-bird soup ran out

Mice died  starved as everyone

Babies didn't cry  No babies lived

Tiny girls died first  No more were born


At night we huddled and we froze  Our toes

turned black and fell away

Good eiderdowns were taken by The Commune

All cotton covers eaten

Leaf pancakes brought a beating

The only hearth The Commune's


Two bowls of stalk and leaf soup

were not enough to line the empty bones

Young pushed and starved the old and weak

First-comers bowls were mostly water

Last arrivals lost their meagre ration

Party bullies punched the poor to death


Daughters  dry of tears  died first

Men and boys claimed rations for their corpse

Richer neighbours  buried live

beaten  kicked  despised to death

Earth eaten  set as clay pots  inside bellies

People eaten  soothed the hunger pains


Babies and the disappeared becoming soup

to send the desperate mad  until

soldiers threw sacks                       six miles away

spilling wheat  eaten raw upon the road

As most of our village died

Our Chairman gave the wheat away

to feed Korea  North Vietnam  Albania

CPR 1996


◄ Chicken soup

Of flotsam and foundrels ►


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Harry O'Neill

Thu 10th Dec 2015 23:06

In a complete (and movingly) contrast to your `Mothers Ramble` this is pure narrative. (and - in it`s way - just as poetically effective)

One is a kind of `the way you tell èm` the other a kind of `ỳou just have to re-state the facts`

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Stu Buck

Sun 6th Dec 2015 09:53

this is one of the best things ive read in powerful and full of emotional punches. enough descriptive parts and detail to make me believe you (and therefore I) were there. its just brilliant writing. Daughters dry of tears died first is a fantastic line but there are so many. I really do love this.

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