THE WAR ON THE SPARROWS



In 1958 the Great Helmsman
ordered the massacre of the sparrows,
declaring them parasites of the paddies.
He said they ate
too much rice,
depriving the People

With absolute faith in the Revolution, the People
obeyed without question the Great Helmsman
as they hungered for rice.
They tore down the nests of the sparrows,
shot them out of the sky, drummed loudly and ate
them, scared them to their deaths from the paddies.

Political power grows from a gun barrel, not paddies.
and Nature isn’t a politician, for the People
didn’t know the sparrows, dead by the millions, ate
more than just grain. The Great Helmsman
looked on impassively. The sparrows
had kept down the locusts, who also liked rice.

The Genghis horde of the locusts devoured the rice.
Outnumbering the Red Army, they fell on the paddies.
The People died by the millions like the sparrows
for there wasn’t any food for the People
and the Great Helmsman
shrugged, sat down at his table, and ate.

Famine gripped the land. Parents cooked and ate
their children for want of rice,
children gnawed on their parents, and the Great Helmsman
watched them lie down and die in the paddies.
There was nothing for the People
and the Chairman ate a dish of sparrows.

In 1960 Mao quietly pardoned the sparrows
declaring he’d actually meant the bedbugs who ate
the blood of the People.
It was still a long time before there was rice
again in the paddies
as confidently predicted by the Great Helmsman.

Once more the sparrows pecked at the rice
and ate the locusts that plagued the paddies

and the People cheered the wisdom of the Great Helmsman.

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