Peter Austin, ‘Its One Mistake’ – 4th Place Adult Award

Its One Mistake

by Peter Austin

Born in Northeast China, in ’92,
Falun Gong, within six years, had become
So widespread that the State began to view
It as a threat and, neath an iron thumb,

Moved to squash it. But it would not lie flat,
Despite a barrage of lies, depicting its
Sway as perfidious and (worse than that)
Likely to lead to addling of the wits

And even suicide…. In ’99
(Membership in the ten-millions by then
Of a movement altogether benign
Though, to the Party, a carcinogen),

A campaign was begun to stamp it out
Which crescendoed in Tiananmen Square
Two years later, and which settled all doubt
In the minds of everyone who was there

Or saw it on TVs across the nation
As to the perils posed by such a cult.
‘It’ was the putative self-immolation
Of five members, and in rapid result

Falun Gong’s traction slipped out of sight,
Despite the act’s exposure as a prank
In the West, where it quickly came to light
That one of the five was felled with the shank

Of a policeman’s gun and, furthermore,
One who survived (firetrucks happened to be
Oddly close at hand), and who bravely bore
An emergency tracheotomy,

Interviewed later was heard to quip
And sing! What do the Chinese leaders care
Of that, though? Thanks to blanket censorship,
What happens in the outside world stays there.

* * *


Recognized as 4th Place in the adult category of FoFG’s 2020 Poetry Contest