A Notebook From 1967

Leather-bound messages,

              traveled from hands to hands 

and arrived here,

              in an antiquity store;

a display of a turbulent past,

unclear now

on yellow pages, where

a downpour of thoughts had fallen

and a roar of raging words—

                      silenced,

after almost fifty years, 

by a red price tag.

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.

First Ride Home

I was sixteen when the truck broke down 

and parked despondently inside a mountain.

 

It was early winter.

I felt I was tossed into a vortex when the truck stopped with a screeching sound.

The headlamp was still on, like desperate eyes looking hard into a shroud 

of darkness and confused.

No stars, absolutely no stars;

They had fallen into the gaping mouth of the mountain,

waiting to be fished out by the invisible hands of a late morning.

Terrifying silence came, seeping in through the windshield.

It forced into my lungs and grabbed my heart, the stench of the night air.

I gasped.

 

The driver was fidgety, trying to call someone, 

No signal, he said and discarded the thought of rescue.

He was grumbling something unclear while he killed the engine.

His words lacerated the night.

 

I took the sleeping bag he gave me and crawled in, knowing

home was still far, far away…

Or in a good dream.

 

A Fateful Night

I drink tonight, to the city that weeps.

A toast it shall be,

from the lips of a man who loves truly

the vast lands of China.

— she deserves better;

But it doesn’t matter now, does it?

Salvation comes to those who need it not.

 

An old woman by the garbage dump—

A black dog with a severed tail— 

Everyone is drifting into the endless night.

It comes early now.

The Line He Draws

for Tomas Transtroemer

The line he draws on his notebook 

stretches out, endlessly, 

with the sound of an axe cutting the air, 

and continues its silent judgement, where 

the world is halved.

I’m on one side;

My deeds the other, falling soundlessly;

A rebuke— 

I cast my thought over 

into the realm of inanity.

It bounces like a morning dew 

on lifeless leaves.

Air is thinner there 

than a breath.

 

I grab hold of the line —the edge of existence, 

saved by an old hypothesis 

of death.