Cloth Birds

Translated by Natascha Bruce

There's no cloth hawker in the bazaar 
willing to make dirty deals 
with the health inspector 
neither will they confess the link 
between those bolts of flyaway fabric 
and ancient birds 
(lo a sage appeared 
drilled fire from sticks 
transformed the stinking food 
and the people were happy
after the ban on cooking smoke 
glug glug swallow 
the secret of seawater and its fish 
tile cities built up and pulled down 
at four in the afternoon 
a routine inspection 
into the cleanliness of laughter 
a hand spread wide in the dark is 
splattered with light 
a carambola tree sprouts branches from stumps 
its remaining fruits sour and shrivelled to stardust 
swaying in the void 
the sky so dull 
and the city official 
at the newly-sterilized entrance 
frantically gouging 
a spy hole onto the blankness


布鳥

棚內沒有一個布販
願意和衛生幫進行
骯髒的交易
他們也不會供認一匹匹
時時想要起飛的布帛
和遠古鳥類的關係
(有聖人作      鑽燧取火       以化腥臊       而民悅之)
炊煙被禁止後
骨都骨都吞下
海水和魚的秘密
四方城築起又被推毁
下午四點
循例要檢查
笑聲的潔淨度
暗黑的手張開了是
頭上漏下來的光點
一再節外生枝的楊桃樹
剩下幾顆縮得很小的酸澀的星屑
在虛晃
天空悶極
而城管員
在他剛剛消毒好的大門上
用力開鑿
一個空空的洞眼

 

Related Poems

Separation Wall

When the milk is sour,
it separates.

The next time you stop speaking,
ask yourself why you were born.

They say they are scared of us.
The nuclear bomb is scared of the cucumber.

When my mother asks me to slice cucumbers,
I feel like a normal person with fantastic dilemmas:

Do I make rounds or sticks? Shall I trim the seeds?
I ask my grandmother if there was ever a time

she felt like a normal person every day,
not in danger, and she thinks for as long

as it takes a sun to set and says, Yes.
I always feel like a normal person.

They just don’t see me as one.
We would like the babies not to find out about

the failures waiting for them. I would like
them to believe on the other side of the wall

is a circus that just hasn’t opened yet. Our friends,
learning how to juggle, to walk on tall poles.

Redacted from a Know-Your-Rights Training Agenda—

That a potholed street in the middling borough of Collingswood, New Jersey, bears the name Atlantic, after an all-consuming body of water.
 
That all-consuming is Atlas’ curse to bear the heavens on his shoulders.
 
That after the fall of the gods, half of the heavens is darkness.
 
That inside the car speeding down the street, I believe I am safe from being halved. 
 
That “I” am not a white box, but a body of water.
 
That white is a pattern of boys who expect to live long enough to become men.
 
That some of these boys are whistling by on their bikes, and behind them, clear as a dream, welcome candles in the windows framed by blooms of vervain.
 
That “welcome” means I thought I was not afraid of the dark.
 
Since the jade scrubs of the cancer ward.
 
Since the florescent grid of the factory and the vista of small bones in my father’s collar while I was interpreting for the twenty-something-year-old white citizen,
 
                             “Tell your dad he can quit or I can fire him.”
 
Grief had already burst its cocoon; it ate him like an army of moths from the inside.
 
That brown men and women kept stitching jackets under the heavens of the machines.
 
Welcome.
 
That a moth is trapped in the car with me – it will die, but I do not want to practice florescence alone.
 
Like a first language bleeding hearts call, speaking truth to power.
 
I don’t know how they don’t know that power doesn’t care.
 
That watching fires go out will become a pattern.
 
That fire is everywhere, and therefore, cheap.
 
That the hole in my foundation is all-consuming and at its bottom a frangipani tree opens its yellow hands.
 
That POLICE ICE is printed in yellow or white on the jacket of the night.
 
That the night walks freely among the ranks of the sun.
 
That a body of water parted once like a red skirt then sealed over the armored horses of Egypt.
 
That Whitney Houston is a bone blasting
 
out the car windows.
 
That tonight, the night after, the night after that, for as long as the distance between god and a pothole, a moth’s flight will spell,
 
                                	“They are coming for you.”

Ask the Locals

Nobody knows how those so-called revolutionaries
who wanted year zero so bad,
turned into mosquitoes. I mean, mosquitoes right?
Because not butterflies or moths rolling
in the mass graves—we all know the moths are children
who didn’t make it past five. My theory is those creeps
sucked the blood of their victims to forget
what kinds of torture they did, with their bare hands
or with other kinds of hands, the kinds with teeth.
I’m not trying to scare you now. Just letting you know
if you scratch your arms like that a huge welt will appear
like a rash, will take months to fade (or forget as it goes),
and those mosquitoes will keep coming for you.
You heard it from me. Don’t scratch their real names. 
Toothpaste over that bump won’t soothe you,
not on this one. I’ll tell you something personal: every time
I hear their real names, I scratch my skin. I scratch my own name
too. Mosquitoes. Call them mosquitoes. Like a nuisance.
Just that. I know, I know… it’s been years. The past
should be the past by now but not this kind.
You have to protect yourself because this kind keeps going
like that mosquito’s straw on your calf keeps sucking.
You didn’t see it, did you? This is when I tell you: Don’t move.
Slap.