Tuesday, May 30, 2017


When the Ming lost the mandate of heaven
Some who had opposed them became
Furiously loyal, retreating in one way or another
From the victorious Tatars. Some became hermits
Or birdlike men who stepped lightly, leaving no footprints.
Of those who fled further one skipped through time
Like a rock across water, turning up first
In a small town in
Essex in the 9th century
Where they assumed he'd fallen from the sky.
They called him "the green man." He married
And had six children whose descendants to this day
Have nothing good to say of the Tatars.
Next, he looped about and was born
In a shtetl ten miles from Lemberg. The Baal Shem
Offered to bargain for his release from his fealty
To the last Ming Emperor but the Lvoviner refused
Asking who if not he would say kaddish
For the vagrant soul of the Chongzhen Emperor
Or the soul of the beautiful Princess Kunyi?

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