It is celebration: a cot hovers.
Balloons bunch grapelike off
the ceiling, suspend a bicycle in a
front wheelie. Fifty red ones
say “I love you” in white, and the
others are spongebob, donald
duck, and starting to wilt. A ladder
hangs from a cluster,
and a fire extinguisher. Tracing the
scales of the dragon
from its tail, its paper spines
brandished in two ridges,
we terminate at a gigantic head.
It is the century of
the Dragon! The eyes are black
plastic; its mouth,
wearing gold and baring canines,
wants you to crawl into it. I once
spent a summer in Beijing,
living at the Communications
University, Gaobeidian station.
I had long hair, which I felt
I read Tang poems, went vegetarian,
got fucked up at Dada, and
thought about service to humanity.
With my boss I visited
Wang Qingsong’s house where I met
his wife and son.
Out of the corners of the dragon’s
snout two antennae
ending in crystal balls. There is no
pearl to be found.
The strings suspending it have hurt
the dragon’s body, which
on the fifth day hangs like skin off
the wire frame, which itself
uncurls under the weight of the
dragon’s equipment. The crux of it all
is the extent to which one believes
it has revisionist intentions,
which Xi’s “great renewal” rhetoric
teases, and there
was sweat in Beijing unlike anything
in gentle Shanghai,
on trains more people launching
themselves into the tangle
of passengers, racing for seats.
Meng’s anyways due to meet
princeling Bo—in party prisons the
whimper of the once
untouchable a shifting hum,
unraveling and weaving—but here
the deflating balloons suck in together:
under this bouquet of disfigured
cartoons a christmas tree, another
balloon telling you it loves you.