Chiang-Kai Shek Boneyard


the streets have been renamed

by politicians to bear fewer
remembrances of colonial times

as society evolves to retire master

narratives; what would it mean

to my father and his generation

to regard this graveyard of the past

collected together in one memorial

park, acres of bronze busts

all over the nation, monuments

beheaded, spray painted with

graffiti, or simply taken down

the Generalissimo as wounded

hero, the dictator riding out

on a dogged steed, soldiers

salute each day in choreographed

displays of military honor for one

who lays putrefying in state

guarded by young men in white

uniforms who perform daily

acts of allegiance, forbidden from

taking photographs of the tomb,

I focus instead on the 20-year-old

cadets saluting the ruler who never

commanded them, sweating in the heat

of mid-day, the vacant face of the recruit,
his brow patted dry by a superior while
standing at something less than full attention