Chairman Mao Didn’t Brush and Other Poems

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Author: Michael Chacko Daniels
Illustrators: Aaron Bass and Krittika Ramanujan
Pages: 212
Year of Publication: 2018
Price: Rs 400 / $ 25
978-93-5045-182-3 (9789350451823)

About the Author
Michael Chacko Daniels lives and writes in San Francisco. He grew up in Bombay, where he attended St. Michael’s High School, Wilson College, and University of Bombay’s Department of Economics. He has a master’s from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.  His adventures in the United States include five years as a Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA); four as editor/publisher of the New River Free Press of Grand Rapids, Michigan; four as assistant editor in San Francisco at The Asia Foundation; and sixteen at Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living. He helped start the Jobs for Homeless Consortium of Alameda County (California) in 1988, and to run it through mid-2004. He is a naturalized citizen of the United States. He has been writing for over five decades. Writers Workshop, India, has published seven of his books: Split in Two (poetry, 2004), Anything Out of Place Is Dirt (novel, 2004), That Damn Romantic Fool (novel, 2005), Morning in Santiniketan (haiku, 2010), The Mendonҫa Mystery and Other Stories (short stories, 2014), The Flea-Driven Traveler & Fifty-One Senryu, Haiku, Haibun (poetry, 2016) and Savages and Other Neighbours (novel, 2017).

About the Illustrators

Aaron Bass is a printmaker and illustrator who grew up along the industrialized beaches of both the east and west coasts of the United States. The childhood memories of biological and manufactured debris that washed up on those shores had a profound effect on his later work. Aaron’s work is primarily focused on expressing a contemporary urban interpretation of animism and incorporates bones, found objects, and other scavenged materials. His prints have been exhibited in Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the U.K., India, Germany, and Pakistan, as well as across the U.S. He has taught printmaking at Southwest University of the Visual Arts and the University of New Mexico. He has worked as a collaborative printer and for the leading press manufacturer, Takach Press. Currently, Aaron lives in New Mexico with his wife, son, and a variety of small animals. His work can be viewed at:

Krittika Ramanujan is an artist, born in Chicago, now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has an MFA in printmaking from the University of New Mexico. She has three main bodies of artwork on Dante’s Divine Comedy, mammal skeletons, and human rights. She has illustrated (with Aaron Bass) The Mendonca Mystery and Other Stories (2014) by Michael Chacko Daniels.


Chairman Mao Didn’t Brush

There’s much I comfortably ignore:

Chairman Mao didn’t brush, I know, but
Why he had his pictures show white teeth
(Snow flakes on a dial-a-trick mountain?),
I pass over.

Nehru loved Edwina, I know, but
Why two warships to guard her body
(Escorts to a skeptic’s Naraka?),
I pass over.

Of Einstein’s gedanken I know, but
Why he tried God, throwing human dice
(Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, or Yahweh?),
I pass over.

Uncle Ho said, Burn me, I know, but
Why he remains embalmed, on display
(Stalin, Mao, Ho: Marx alive, no?),
I pass over.

Don’t worry, child, what one doesn’t know
Can do no harm. Any other way,
I’d have more than I could parse, before
I cross over.

  • San Francisco California


  1. Naraka: Sanskrit; underworld.
  2. Gedanken: German; thought; used here as a shorthand for Einstein’s thought experiments.

65 poems

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