Categories
Family ghosts

Quota

The US quota for Chinese immigrants used to be 100 souls per year. This was in the early fifties, soon after the fall of China to the Communists. This was when my grandparents, father and all his siblings were trying to enter and remain in the US. It never occurred to me that our family’s […]

Categories
Art Craft

Shadow Box

I love shadow boxes. I don’t mean the practice of sparring with yourself (though this is a worthy act that bears repeating). Think of a literal box, perhaps protected by a glass front, inside of which resides a world of whimsy. Think of it as found poetry in three-dimensional form. Shadow history Sailors were the […]

Categories
China Chinese prisons Hong Kong

Knock Knock

Surveillance is an ancient Chinese art. To monitor the enemy, Sun Tzu (544-496 B.C.) advocated the use of spies: local, inward, converted, doomed and surviving. The emperor should deploy all five kinds in times of war and in peace. Last week, Hong Kong arrested 53 activists for allegedly subverting state power. The police needed no […]

Categories
Chinese language poetry

Fire

I’ve got fire on my mind. Maybe it’s the fireworks that exploded all over Amsterdam in defiance of a nationwide firework ban on New Year’s Eve. Or it’s the Thai bird that now hovers over our living room. It’s a phoenix, right? The mythical creature that rose from the ashes of a catastrophic conflagration. I […]