Supreme Ultimate Fist

          Taipei, 1986

4:30 a.m. & the foreign devils
are staggering home, loud
on the otherwise deserted avenues
where only sixteen
hours earlier, tanks
& missiles had crawled,
draped in flowers,
& floats bristled
with stooped dignitaries
holding each other up
like cigarette butts in
a crowded ashtray.
One flatbed bore a small
plane from the mainland,
complete with defector
waving stiffly from the cockpit,
smiling that smile
that drives
the expats crazy.

Now the Chiang
Kai-Shek Memorial
glows all alone in
the darkness. A taxi
approaches, head & arm
protruding from
the rear window,
obscene fist extended
with a howl:
Fuck you & your 4000
years of civilization!

While two blocks away
in the unlit park,
dozens of shadowy figures
are just beginning
to move the tips
of their fingers.

The title is a common, albeit poor, English translation of Tai Chi Chuan (太極拳)

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  1. I don’t get the smile. Which expats? The Mainlanders? The speaker’s presumably non-Chinese people? What about the smile?

    But I love the shout, and the end — the end makes me think of sea anemones in dark water.


  2. Sorry. “Foreign devils” – Yang guezi always means people of European descent. You wouldn’t refer to ethnic Chinese in Taiwan as expats – by that measure, 80% of the population would be expat. The smile is that smile that drives expats (or at least Americans) crazy because it strikes them as insincere. Meanwhile, of course, the Americans strike the Chinese as childish in their unguarded expressions…


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