Saturday, October 11, 2008

Though I did write this a couple of years ago

The Mao ficcione

Mao Zedong as he
is now known
started the Long March
with 100,000 followers
& three movies. When
they reached Shanxi
there were only
8000 people &
one movie left. Loss of
faith, starvation, accidents
& the continual harrassment
by Jiang Jie Shi’s
Guomindang army
accounted for the attrition. The
two movies — The Battleship
Potemkin
& Les Enfants du
Paradis
— were lost when
a landslide carried
the mule that was carrying them
away. Stagecoach was the
only one to survive; but,
fortunately, the pedal-powered
generator that provided
the electricity also
made it through un-
scathed. It is said
that by the end of the
March all the survivors
knew every word of the script
by heart. There is a poem
of Mao’s that starts:
“The long shadow
of John Ford
guards the entrances
to the Shanxi Caves.” That
Zhou Enlai who
drove the generator
is equally revered is
evidenced by the number
of bicycles in China today.


One of the 400 or so poems selected by Thomas Fink for my Pelican Dreaming: Poems 1959-2008.

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