Prisoners of the Code

Turned to mockingbirds
bound by oath
white band on wings
ropes
garble warble
forced
to co-opt bird anthems
of young pioneers
singsonging
Mao and Uncle Ho
to the hearts and minds
of peasants caught
by short-haired cadre
crooning
the truth as it was
spun by
guards
ever wrapping and unwrapping
in clammy moonlit air:
recant decry confess
imperialist monger of war
puppet trooper your crimes
against the people
who observe no conventions
just rope, and
we’re bound to break
you into song
or shrivel you
into stickmen
fed only by your
code of honor.

Constance Lee Menefee
Copyright 2000