Willis Barnstone for Ian Johnson, journalist, in his Beijing Like the nearly empty endless Louvre in aprÃ¨s-guerre Paris when all the toilets are Turkish squat holes and no one to gaze at lonely Mona Lisa and Botticelli, so in the rainy Forbidden City when Iâm let in, a friend of China, invited by Zhou Enlai, no one is around but the generals. Greedily I haunt red rooms crammed with beauty. Outdoors, I see the glass wind ï¬utter Red Guard ï¬ags as pure as fanatic slogans, followed by parading soldiers from Albania, the great Stalinist nation. Comrade Little Ripple guides me to the Beijing Opera where gung-ho actors screech and charge up Tiger Hill to smash capitalist roaders. Midnight, I sneak outside to roam the greater Forbidden City, hutong alleys and sleeping courtyards. There the moon and I scrawl poems till daybreak. Maoâs portrait everywhere, his verse inscribed on stamps and on huge public walls in his own grass calligraphy. Four decades pass, Beijing is Cartier diamonds and villainous smog. So many new friends. Tinker, Painter, Poet, Spy (& Iron Hand). Pop art and installations. Yet still I spend the afternoon in the newly opened Ming Daoist Fire God
Prairie Schooner – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Aug 9, 2017
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