by Jianqing Zheng

In October 1976 in China, a month
after Chairman Mao's death, his widow
and her three associates were arrested,
denounced as the "Gang of Four."

To answer the new leaders' call,
the village chief convened a meeting
on the threshing floor to celebrate
the downfall of the "Gang of Four."

He read a long newspaper article
that praised the new leaders, but
it sounded tasteless as an unsalted dish.
The villagers began to chat

about the cotton price, nowhere
to buy chemical fertilizer, or
whose daughter to be married off, etc.
Realizing his reading was part of

the noise buzzing like a swarm of
mosquitoes, the chief asked
the villagers to be quiet; no one listened.
He shook his head and thundered

"Long live Chairman Mao!"
into the microphone. As if awakened,
we all stretched our arms
to yawn the slogan after him, then

peals of laughter among the crowd.
Mao was dead! Making a wry face,
the chief quacked: "Dismiss!
Go back to work!"


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