Wang Qingsong Honors the New Year

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,
       is authoritative—

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
       self-conscious about,

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.