i’d studied mao

i was ready for mao
but from town to town
mao lived only in faded
wall murals and the throng
of chinese voices chanted for
yao     yao     yao
       their giant who
       dunked as easily
       as other men yawned
he filled posters and t-shirts and
playgrounds of tiny men and boys
stretching for the rebound
and when i visited mao’s
gelatinous skeleton perched
in tiananmen square i planned
on apologizing for what we’d done
       for james naismith
       and growth hormones
       and the market economy
but something in the way
his jellyfish jowls drooped
from his plastic face made
me think that he’d probably
get a kick out of watching
a half-a-billion comrades
cutting down the lane, faking
the pass, dunking as easily
as other men yawn.

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