Little Rabbit

This poem was written for a friend of Chinese heritage, and I am thinking about reading it at the Gloriously Other LGBT poetry event in July in Ipswich.
It is inspired by the Taoist myth told of a young soldier, Hu Tianbao, who fell madly in love with a pompous government official and took to mooning over him. The bigwig did not notice until after the unfortunate day when Hu was caught spying on the dignitary whilst he was in the bathhouse. Enraged, the man had Hu beaten to death ~ whether this was plain old fashioned homophobia  or social snobbery towards a humble soldier for daring to lust after an Imperial flunky is ambiguous.
When the poor soldier arrived before King Yan, judge of the dead, it was deemed that he had died for love and so was not deserving of infernal punishments. The case was sent to the celestial realms, where it was adjudged that Hu should be raised up as a god and renamed Tu-Er-Shen, the Rabbit God. He has been a patron of gay lovers ever since.
His cult became prominent in his home province of Fu Jian for a while, dwindled dramatically under Communism, but has recently revived in some areas of the world colonised by Chinese ex-pats. He is considered by Taoists to be a rather shy god who appreciates all offerings and praise (hopefully including this poem).
I'd love to create an altar for Tu-Er-Shen with a statue, such as the one featured in the photograph, but doubt I will locate such a thing in this country. So I'm trying to work out how best to make one!


Little Rabbit lies bleeding,
His beloved unheeding
Of the scarlet on the tiles.
                Little Rabbit lies weeping,
                His brief memories seeping
                Whilst his harsh assassin smiles.

Little Rabbit loves him still,
This lord who has caused such ill,
Has worshipped him from afar.
                Little Rabbit gazed, yearning,
                Unrequited love burning,
                Leaves its own soul-searing scar.

Little Rabbit kneels spying,
Beneath his lord’s veil prying,
Humble soldier needs to know.
                Little Rabbit blind to pride,
                High Lord wanted no man-bride
                Raging, scorning, lays him low.

Little Rabbit eyes dimming,
Faces in the pool brimming,
Distorted souls reflect true.
                Little Rabbit slips the coil
                Leaves behind such fruitless toil
                From bloody bathhouse soul flew.

Little Rabbit sits dreaming
Whilst turns a full moon’s gleaming,
Before King Yan’s divine throne.
                Little Rabbit heaven sent
                Ensures now no love unspent
                That no man should die unknown.

Little Rabbit, Tu Er Shen,
Grants the love of men to men,
Brother bucks beneath the pelt.
                Little Rabbit made divine
                Fleshed by such love, yours and mine,

                In each caress he is felt. 

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