First published on Aug 18, 2017. Immediately after, our server was attacked, site got hacked, and article deleted. We are republishing in good faith. Linda Ashok, Founder/President, RædLeaf Foundation for Poetry & Allied Arts.
on July 13, 2017, the Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate, poet, literary critic and activist, Liu Xiaobo passed away of multiple organ failure. Following that the Chinese government also denied Liu Xiaobo a proper cremation and ordered for his body to be immersed in the ocean. As always, China’s arbitrary and inhuman portrait came to the notice of the world not only in terms of denying Xiaobo a proper treatment but also, a proper burial. 
The ‘empty chair’ by the ocean front is symbolic of Xiaobo’s departure. We believe the soul of Xiaobo continues on his ocean path to reach bardo. And while he continues his journey, we have these three poems waving as prayer flags for his safe arrival. 
We hope you’ll remember him and connect with his soul through a vast body of works he has left for us. Amazon (Note: This is not paid marketing.)


The Irony of the Pacific Ocean

                                                    For Liu Xiaobo

You imprisoned me for my words.
For calling dark nights dark, dark
times dark, spade a spade, gutter a gutter.
For identifying the bloodied sun scarring dawn.

Prison, that wet, clingy thing around
my throat, had to yield to death, my death.
Doors that shut words in had to be flung open
to let the big word in – ‘he, who must not be named’.
And to let in the winds blowing from lost corners of my land.

My death is an empty chair. The peace of Nobel stares at it.
My wife stares at it. I stare at it. It ransacks the dreams
of exiled artists in Berlin, rummages into their colour tubes.
Demands to be painted and hoed into walls.

Freedom is tiredness. A bone crushing fatigue
that makes my body feel as though it’s a sack of hacked desires.
A game I play with myself. All my moves wrong.
And then I feel the burn. Freedom is fire.

A blaze. A flame connecting the dots of severed heads.
A chant streaming across borderless skies.
Freedom is me—destroyed in the liver but whole in the heart.
Freedom is what my ashes sing as they kiss the Pacific Ocean
emptied from a copper urn at Dalian Port.


Vinita Agrawal an award winning poet and writer. Recipient of the Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Award for Literary Excellence, USA, 2015, her poems have appeared in Asiancha, Constellations, The Fox Chase Review, Pea River Journal, Open Road Review, Stockholm Literary Review, Poetry Pacific, Mithila Review and over a 100 other national and international journals. For more, visit www.vinitawords.com



Poets don’t quit; they pass on the baton

How can I, my poet,
mourn your murder
when an empty chair
lights up still
in the periphery of my
misted vision.
As the far east sun
softly sprawls
across the weave of its
worn out seat,
I can hear it breathe
tale after tale
of storms it fought
through exiled nights.
The weave has slackened.
The wood- chipped off.
Yet I know, it is willing
to bear my weight
as I sit on its
battered frame
watching myself
turn into you.The war isn’t over.
The chair’s not empty.
Not anymore.

Ananya Chatterjee is a poet and member of Poetry Paradigm, Kolkata. She was longlisted for the 2016 RL Poetry Award. Author of 3 books of poetry, Ananya is a senior software professional with Oracle, India.



Resistance, in memoriam Liu Xiaobo

Now the baton has passed to mere politicos,
Who cannot say, except in the coded politesse
Of international diplomacy, that the core condition
Of humanity is war, where all but one redemptive
Theory or philosophy is quietly annihilated.
It shows how all that meditation in the deserts
Of our evolution, seeking for something to reconcile
Our selfhood to its conflict in the world,
Is a straitened attempt to turn our social
And political trauma into the radiance of spiritual
Meaning, and is the turn some few of us
Will always undertake.

Peter Cowlam, writer and critic. Brief stint as commissioning editor saw two issues of The Finger, a journal of politics and culture. His last novel, Who’s Afraid of the Booker Prize?, won the 2015 Quagga Prize for Literary Fiction. Latest novel is Across the Rebel Network. Poems forthcoming in Fulcrum. Poems, short stories have appeared in The Battersea Review, Literary Matters, Valparaiso Fiction Review, Four Quarters Magazine, The Liberal.