Shi Tao

Shi Tao, a Chinese poet and journalist, was arrested for an email he sent to pro-democracy websites in 2004. He was finally released from prison September 2013. It should be noted that his conviction was predicated by an email taken from his private account by Yahoo and given to the Chinese government. He served 8 years of a 13 year sentence. Congratulations Shi Tao, you made it. The following is a protest poem about the injustice suffered by Shi Tao, which I wrote 7 August 2008. It speaks for every person that promotes freedom and human dignity for all the repressed peoples of our world. You can read more about his arrest and the poem “June”, by Shi Tao, here.


Shi Tao your thoughts are as water,
They will always find a way out.
Your suppression is a cotton gag,
Soon to rot and disintegrate.
Despot leaders and jailers all die,
Their passing the cleansing of stain.
Their trial against your humanity,
Rust on the steel of human rights.
History’s repressive governments,
All of them are footnotes in time.
The poets, the writers, the teachers,
Their words the soil of expression,
They pay the price for our freedom.
Your penned words etched on paper,
A killing field of social injustice.
The world’s authoritarians fear this,
Their minions the truth eradicators.
Shi Tao, unlike you they are fools,
They never learn the pen’s strength,
The weight of your written words.
They cannot dismiss freedom’s voice,
For your brothers and sisters speak.
Your indignity poison to the corrupt,
The gall that spills over black deeds.
Nothing exists forever except,
The verdant fields of knowledge.
The poetry of your life, Shi Tao.

Copyright: 2008 Donald Harbour

Bounded by boarders

“My God,” cried the supplicant,
expressing belief in extremity,
that token labium of the metaphysical.
We are all the hoarders of borders,
living on imagined deckle-edged paper,
there writing our circumscribed lives.
Each defining the selvage of our fears,
consternation of woven limitations, we are
fettered by a bête noire tenant of the soul.
At times, others handcuff us to a purlieus bed,
accepting, seeking release from dragging our yokes,
then, refusing to master the pale of our requiem.
Lives lived in containment, shackled by convergence,
never venturing into the freedom of self, never
bounding past our own hobbling erosive manacles.
They are meant to contain, they are control,
the pestilence of living that defines what we become.
When the lights go out we are each confined,
bound by dirt, plastic, wood, or brass jar,
that is the environ of our material existence,
rest, peace within a packaged repository.
We do not realize there is no caracole,
only in life ending release of the energy within,
will we understand its limitlessness, and the
boundless freedom of being one with creation.

©2012, Donald Harbour

Developing mad cow mentality

My jaws are tired of chewing
the fat and gristle of lies.
The denominator of civil thought,
consequences confounded by opinion.
The meat of the world sliced
into mind choking proportion.
Groups of organized conflagrations
screaming their venom.
They are totally oblivious
of the destructive choice made.
The Russ Limbaugh putrid rotting,
of the soul and heart of a nation.
Pitiless distortion of humanity
all for the god forsaken dollar.
The scripted spewing: “Listen to me,
I know what I am talking about!”
Contaminating the social fabric,
the pristine democracy of America.
The masses of cattle, swallowing manure
developing mad cow mentality, elected
intellects of freedom exercising
a distorted party line propaganda.
All this, all that is at stake,
all that can be taken and never forgiven,
for a fruitless insanity way of life.
The me, mine, not yours, selfishness,
condemnation of human dignity,
blurred by thoughtless obedience
to religion, political craftiness,
the splurging, and purging pious thinking.
The rabid radical right beliefs are
contrite willful destruction of the good,
without consideration or contemplation
of that shining city upon a hill.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

Who Will Kill Freedom

When a young man stood still,
To stop a tank on Tienanmen Square,
Did you stand up and cheer,
Did you protest with him – did you care?

When a young girl is gang raped,
In the silent violent Darfur night,
Do you feel her pain – her shame,
Do you shout at your leaders this is not right?

When a nation values truth and justice,
Then tortures a captive in a concrete cell,
Where were your values of honor,
Where were they as the nation descends into hell?

When you look at your image in the mirror,
What is reflected there that grasps your mind,
In the light of reason – the path of light,
Has it so dimmed that to reality you are blind?

When the newspaper white washes wrong,
Casting half truths on pages printed with soy ink,
Must you use it to wrap odious fish offal,
Or does the smell of their craft already stink?

When your leaders carp about their party,
The same words that Stalin and Mao once used,
And the Constitution is cast aside,
Are you with patriotic indignation infused?

When we become the animals in the chute,
Stumbling to a slaughter house Democracy,
We will draw the knife across freedom’s throat,
Held in the hands of our own hypocrisy.

Copyright: 2008, Donald Harbour