Tonight

It must have been too much alcohol,

even your look becomes suddenly 

                                            so tender

and full of the promise 

                             of a summer’s night.

I’m longing to have you, 

                                   here and now

before the harsh daylight steals you away

and I might never see you again.

                                  Anyway that’s the game,

a sweet but ruthless encounter 

 

                                   with no tomorrow

for queers like us in this all-embracing land.

But I like you tonight – 

that’s why this empty bar

does call for something more intimate 

                                     between us.

your face— 

your half-open shirt—

Your creamy chest— 

O the rushing sound 

                           deep inside my veins!

It’s been too good a night to let you flee,

                           just stay a while longer—

If you desire admiration,

                           or compliments 

from all men before and after me,

I have nothing better now

                          than my loneliness 

in a promiscuous life,

and tonight,

                            I’ve given it to you.

 

Published on The New English Review

Zhang Yuan

It crouches 

              deep in the garden.

 

A bizarre phantasm in a still

aluminum jungle;

 

A wound where

memory 

            flows and stops 

the air, thwarted 

by the refracted light 

             of modernity.

 

A hundred years—

worms, 

            wars, 

humans,  

            guns,

emperors

            paupers  

built

           demolished

re-built

            preserved now

in the name of a billion RMB

gentrification.

 

The same, 

its terracotta redemption 

when time confiscates the iron-trace 

of humanity.

 

*Zhang Yuan, or the garden of Zhang, is a renowned residential house built early of the last century in West Nanjing Road, Shanghai, now an area for bars and cafes.but news comes this garden will soon be demolished for a new shopping mall.

A Death In The Sun

Man speaks your name like a burning anathema,

and picks up your body where 

butterflies of newspapers circle above you.

 

The yellow sun is in your hair,  the darkened color 

of tamed waters.

The warm yellow sun—

The quiet yellow sun—

 

Your death rides a black van;

Your death, more real than life, comes at five o’clock, 

in a wedding tuxedo.

November, 2018

The sad blue sky’s clear dust gropes its way down 

toward the city,

The asphalt roads glimmer like ice.

Red lights dim, like eyes deprived of sleep, 

trying to understand the great mystery of the morning.

                      

An old man stands at an empty phone booth,  

looking at his map

on which a thousand places are marked,

                                                   with no names.

His walking stick dangles on his arm, 

a compass uncertain of the south, where

the sun throws a shadow.

  

Soot-colored silence,

a black cat,

jumps into an open window, the curtain tied back and knotted.

An army of houses stand vigil on the first day 

                                                   of a lunar winter 

Monologue

Ho fermo il core in petto.

Non ho timor: verrò!

(my heart beats firmly ,

I’m not afraid:I’ll come – Don Giovanni)

 

breathe in, breathe in ,

the dust, the smog, the sordid proof of being,

a dose of excitant in the air ,

a whiff of depressant that fumbles my hair ,

Is that how I am ? Is that how I smell?

Is that how I should proceed with my preparation

and advance to my beau de faire?

 

I see my black suit in its funereal solemnity

I see my bow tie batwinged to a silent mockery,

I do not think the old time remembers me ,

no, nobody sings ever more ,

as spring does not bring back the fall.

 

I, a sojourner in a strange town,

I, bound with forces that frosted my hair,

see the sun arise from my coffee mug

— each day!

but again, who would ever care ?

 

my sad reflection approaches in the mirror,

my sad determination voices the horror

the negation or sublimation,

from the man I should meet in one hour ?

 

I know these eyes too well.

yes I grow older now , each year ,

I speak wearing my heart sincere

on my frivolous lips;

I’ve seen life seeping away through my finger tips,

come ye my soothsayer ,

come and tell me

that the line of life continues somewhere.

 

It’s time to look at my watch and count

one two three, yes one two three,

should I reach out to the nonchalant door

and open to the falling agony ?

 

I could have bought a bunch of roses,

I could have talked to the petty peddler

I could have said with a friendly grin

certainly It will be a great year to come ,

to you , to me , to all who wander alone.

because I do not feel cold at all,

I feel the universe spiraling up above

with bits of decay and bits of reanimation

ready at last for the final transformation ?

 

In all, I am beside myself .

until I breathe myself out and away like

a diminished sound for an emaciated figure ,

will he notice ?will he take heed ?

will he be disturbed by the sweat down my hair ?

 

Ah, the clock urges me on urges me on ,

time to face my saviour in the throng.

 

-written 2016 revised 2018, to be published on the seventh issue of Shanghai Poetry Zine October 2018.