Applaud in this hall, the guide says, and we visitors clap our hands.
A strange feeling to applaud on command as he always used to be cheered.
We applaud here, and in his palace of insane size
our applause sounds strange, like the remnant of homage to the crazy little man
who nourished himself on applause, even stored on magnetic tape
and replayed in a loop.
We applaud a ghost – we’re a handful of visitors from several countries,
our shy ovation echoes as if we numbered a thousand or more.
In the People’s House, see, there wouldn’t have been any need
for the thunder of handclapping recorded in the Concert Hall of the National Radio!
The acoustics were specifically engineered, according to some,
so he could be heard everywhere: and once he clapped
the whole country would obey.
We take this applause test. The walls
return our sound multiplied from another world.
The touch of our palms sets spectral echoes free.
With a poisonous aftertaste.
We applaud as a game. And the game is embarrassing.
It spreads crooked smiles across our faces.