What Water Confirms

(Translated by Brian Holton & Agnes Hung-Chong Chan)

sure     wind is leaving along itself too
inherit     crystal ripples in surnames
autumn carries people who stroll     people who jog
and the iron bells hanging all over the November treetops
turn around a street corner     warm
                                   like elsewhere’s autumn

all forms of the past lick towards a golden rim

sure     along his afternoon
the pitch-black asphalt road ponders this house
a bird’s head rots to expose the skull

                                   “and water flows westward again,
                                   passes the big town, saying…”

written on the book     a fall of rain from deep breathing
the blue injected into apples     full of the shrill screams of schoolkids
wild geese in slanting flight     staying alert for humans
and a man     sews up the superfluous parallel lines of his life

a dark green corner in the park
his absurdity     or eagerness
sits into the inflammation of a rusting chair

                                   “river, the breath of water…”

written on the book     leaves of Chinese plane trees
hands both sallow and wrinkled stick fast to the pavement
both salty     and violent     a random eddy of flippers in air
staring at the unseen water

                                   last night is beyond a thousand miles away
all night     winter is crammed with mornings
desperately flinging away dead fish skewered on withered twigs
on the roof     greyish white swim bladders swelling
pressing the trees dim      matching the mood of a poem

he is forty-seven     also a self-polished flight of smooth stone stairs

beating out going under’s rhythm     the garden’s fragmented flesh
indulgently beating time     fragments of flesh in a garden
unaware of time except for the collapse in the sound of rain
not remembering destruction     except for downstairs
changing into a bloody funnel

an elapsing shore in the body     exposes an instant
put it on the kitchen windowsill     sure
outside the window a madman is crooking his back     a head is banging against it
reed catkins disperse     river is torn into strands of cotton

the salt in his heart recognizes this place

two identical books     he rewrites
walk in someone else’s dreams
the bamboos of Europe all bloom in one night
words between bamboo leaves     gone with the wind at last
street corners     spread out Sunday’s rotting-oyster sky
kneading numberless beheaded necks in the flower market

two books a thousand years apart     he threads his way
through a season wrapped in feathers
another sleep talk in another self
river endlessly looking back
two sharp crisscross swords polished snow-bright
coldness chanted by the drowned
is compiled into an ecstatic classic

when the bamboos of Europe hear about the first ocean-going stem
pulling an explosive point
they decide they are lost again

lost among the flowers    see for the fifth time
crows peck and mash the last apple on the branch
this place will then be different     this blackening handle
dangle from the mouth of light years     the starlit sky spatter out
the moment of twisting and breaking     the moment of extraction from memoirs

when the silk blind can’t conceal
always initiated by the worst possible news on TV
a street corner     two black angels practise passing a ball
a small Christmas bell is kicked in through the window
candles explode     seagulls scurry in all directions like frightened expats
a judgment day locked in an aeroplane is narrow and absolute
take a sharp turn     collide with the reality following close behind

everywhere is borrowed     fragrance spilling out after death
everywhere     two nipples gently rubbing
a big bunch of roses    a gaudy red capstan
another pair of hands twisting clouds at the gap of dreams
in     the direction where he never wakes up, where the wind refuses to blow

thousand    years
with terrifying slowness, apples fall to the ground

3.    An off-theme verse
this quiet has been soaked in water, water slowly penetrating these bodies
water slowly carrying away the last white birch
your tombstones forgotten by the sound of the wind, birds and the new year

this quiet has absorbed enough sunlight, as golden as the marshes
shrubs stir those lips, those tiny little
fruits that look bright red, confessing pure secrets at evening
those hands don’t know why as they melt
field paths that have never listened to footsteps will appear one by one

now your faces are flooded with the colour of a meadow of wild grass
winter has passed, crickets are chirping
still dreaming of a little house inside a fence
there, only a gust of wind, a bird and yesterday have hovered in the air

now the dawn you’ve waited for so long
falls onto your unchanging darkness
the ears that can’t hear any songs are spread out under ground
inconspicuous pale blue flowers are covered by a single fallen leaf
you look up at the sky all the while, no longer afraid of rainstorms —

this quiet, this heart which still ages with every minute, every second
a village with missing road signs, hanging suspended in the muddy night
an eternity where no one comes, no one goes

no sorrow, no clouds. The sound of wind and the birds
flutter anxiously away with yesterday
you know nothing at all, only that the final instant’s smile
is water is the sun is silence.

(1984, written for the graveyard of the young urban intellectuals who were exiled to Heilongjiang)

in Hackney     the river is a hidden god
only seen when the autumn floods rise     under the streets
glaciers keep grinding in the rebated trench
a woodblock Waterways Classic Annotated 1 bows to the meaning of wandering
this day uniquely, once only, exists

soaked with light
pierced again and again by the fluttering of a water bird

Georgia    Victoria     Edward     Elizabeth

                                   what if it was the Kingdom of Wei or the Tang Dynasty?

a brass fireplace where the ashes of the dead drift
a pair of ivory-white eyeballs gaze after his footsteps
a string of small parks’ names spread like ripples
                  rings of green by the mouth

a chapel     a bell always desperately ringing at the prow
imitating the one on the Whampoa in heavy fog

landforms hold a foundling tight
wrecked cars abandoned at the roadside     distance
is dug away like a motor     what if
one line of Chinese poetry lets the rain empty a room even more

water     dives back to the ancient hearing of the marshes
water     probably weary of flowing too

                                   missed it     tired too
a red brick wall is like a line running parallel to time
night after night extends     then there’s the lonely structure of an individual
let him guess that’s what he wants     rudder
dries up and cracks in the wind     pearly light thrashes in the sleeping oyster
Hackney is like a short Chinese verse     treasuring the moonlight she fears
leaves of a calendar turned over     a little plaza with a local accent
holds dirty pigeons to its bosom and breaks into pieces


1 A major work of geographical writing by Li Daoyuan (d. 527). Its forty chapters trace the various river courses of China, providing a wealth of anecdotal and historical material concerning cities and areas through which the rivers pass.

          “with less animals and more ghosts… where rivers hide”
he knows     this Roman sarcophagus is empty
names carved in water exhaust archaeology
glass cabinets in museums     that fictional constant temperature
even more like excavated scenery
    she lets us caress     half-naked marble
    urgent hands that know nothing of passion
    she lets us get drunk and dive into a snow-white fold
    the sun sets beyond a wall not yet ruined
    when palm trees brush a plucked-out eyeball
    the feel of green     cold and bright like the blue where peacocks are stationed       this border that lovers can’t guard
    what’s the use of soldiers     we’re collapsing in the northerly wind
    like a line on a fresco so fine
    it falls under the pressure of colour
    listen to what she tells the small golden snake in her bosom
    kiss it     a kingdom dies behind the body
    nothing but a pleasing image

              “in the west of Utopia lies the kingdom of Hanging Ferry”
on his mound    this soon to dry up spring
looks down at an epic     this black dog
picks a weeping willow to piss on
  she walks between our chapped kneecaps
  our fingers all fall off     exhausted already
  stab a spear through the belly to the tailbone     or dig the river deeper
                  like those who would be king say
  when the fleet burns     she’s the only one returning to a dream
  green laws lie under white Saxon snow
  we pass through fields     thinking about her gender on the way
  a warm thing that stinks a bit
  a pig that lies in the ashes of a fiery pool     she stands up
  her skirt making noises as if it warns of next time
                 but who recognises this winter
  whose thready voice is rising along the thorny shrubs
  hums painted reddish brown by the marshes
  we try to get free from the wires that thread through our collarbones
  cry out     be bounced back again
  once she turns around, time vanishes

                                         “what the world abounds in, is water”
with no need for a map he has found
this flowery picnic blanket for
under the armpits of a swan     a valley needs no gloomy catalogue
in a distant place brown paper is opened out     rectifying
a mushroom’s line of sight
   she says     anniversary     is not
  bigger than other duplicated dates
  in the Summer Palace a stone boat sails into the flesh-coloured lotuses
  exile     crumbles with fingers a pistil yearning for the past
  this bottle of ours that holds a letter to ourselves
  always chases a page of the ocean’s manuscript
  she says     life erases humans     and writing
  persists under an illusion
             the only instant that stops
                 is when you’ve loved
   for only a short while     your tongue is rocked by your mother tongue
   ghosts pick out the grain-sized past
   in a flash     the river dashes like it’s trying to touch that bolt of lightning
  migratory birds fly along     their low-level start splashing water in all directions
   book after book is thrown into space

when she is dug out she laughs more happily
   still in her bosom, a string of venomous fangs

6.    An off-theme verse

another decade, hudson river

then    we turn our backs to the symbols

sit into    another river
a dark blue corner of a dark blue room

when hearing is blacker    ten years the jetty has leaned whispering against water
in the little park    ten years the tender green accordion of trees has played
children charging down the April to April steps

clouds charging down their reflection    water now bright now dark
and squirrel’s pulped organs open
a blood-red photo album     reality stings even through glass
even a soaked hand couldn’t touch the lined-up days

river    a blank textbook hanging from the past window
questioning now only the single remaining page     no need to learn vagrancy
weariness    tethered to a water bird flying low
the spinning whirlpool    exit for all the world’s skyscrapers
flee     flee to plastic flowers     no need to learn vanishing

Hudson just like a name formed by the sound of the wind
lamplight’s passing glance     just like ghost fire hidden in human bodies
switched on    just like a notch blown away at will
a rosy notch twilight recorded on the sky
whoever has understood it     will live into a poem
unending past events

room in a room     filled with water of a decade
corner in a corner     painting the dark blue of distance
the way we sit forever turning our backs on the ocean
listening to the waves shatter     rubble savagely smashing a decade
telephone lines broken      cries for help blindly float through a decade
river the colour of forgetting     can’t forget
each day     two hands full of crimson steel tumbling straight down


no need to learn burning     handful of ash fixed in
tight-shut eyes     moon like a scooped-out pip
singing contralto       requiem for every river valley
every place that flows away appears each time after dying
banks paved underfoot     have been thousands of times removed
a pale fishbone always has another end  glowing with phosphorescent light
endurance     to slap a lifetime’s final
farewell    pushing out tonight again


with the look of a room thrust into the universe
survey how much this sunken ship could further sink
our backs turned to zero drawn as the horizon
how much farther it migrates     then crazy blue is blue enough to be black
in a lost accent     Hudson pressed against
a bluestone wellhead buried at the gate of an ancient Chinese village
destruction touches its own diameter of one day
one drop     gathers snow left for us
with the beauty of survivors and the cruelty of survivors


7.     An off-theme verse

“…the joy of tranquillity” (father’s letter)

water-made windows, one closed as the other opens
water is a letter     always thrown farther away
your hand even stretches across the dark to pat your son’s slumber
blood-kin dialect whispers     night takes the longest time to be read
eighty years     fluttering moths

                                   a fall of rain     composes this note from home
long-sighted glasses and vision taken off     put down on a table
teacup     looks back at the glass of a moment ago
there grandfather roars     a boy faces a betraying bed
move one more inch     revolution swollen with the bright red-green of kid’s voices

there     a blue and white meiping vase, by the wildness it contains
is crushed     dad     the rhymes of your life
still carry your son’s hearing     stuck close to an eleven-year-old wall
they force out a voice unlike yours
weak     but denying     aloof from the red-armband

affair     yellow-green asparagus ferns     denying
in the guts of words lies a century swept over by blankness
to be weak as crescent moon or stranger      future to be like body temperature
surging into the tip of this pen     you send yourself by registered mail
the closer the recipient

          writing     the more like a blinding leaving of the         banquet
oh, gloom     fills a quiet corner of the eye
your son’s blood dipping in that smiling drop of yours
letter in reply     aims at the grid tape where
the world starts running     the heartbeat you give will be in tune with you

the tongue tip you give     licks     then cancels
the salty taste of mother’s death     deaths     pile up into half a mortal life
dad     there’s no guide in this tunnel     your greatest transcendent bliss
is to seal tight an envelope     let the voices be stilled like a silkworm
knitting all night its silky cocoon — “all’s     well”

                  he says
this is not a book on geography     but a book of memory
the sound of water in this white porcelain bathtub
is remembered by a river valley in distant hills
cold of a thousand years     comes from the uppermost reaches
a water-eroded cave finds
that underwater flesh     look closer
it’s a blood-red frog
flayed     eggs embracing a piece of jade

                                         he steps on the moss and says
this bed drifts against the morning
each child being reborn
crawls back to pass a corridor     revises a patch of waterweed
pornographic landscapes collaged on the wall

                                         while leaving along himself he says
whoever goes forward     to read the river this tiny thick book
will go backward     to read up to his own unfamiliarity
to wring out the lamplight in submarine cities
to sleep on the riverbank     full moon     angling
to run aground in a pool of 70% solution of flesh and blood
bamboos have blossomed
root     going all out to reproduce a shriek of terror

                  “can’t identify its whereabouts”
                  it’s a dream
his little baby eels haunt the cave
she has mother’s voice, unrecognizable,
the last box delivered here     too light
has hurt hands     like time that no longer pretends to smile
on the platform rusted into a lump of dark green
a corpse softly reclines
his finished part bright and beautiful as the flowers
pure sense of sight     doesn’t know it’s looked at by someone
her cancer quietly twists to shine     led by someone
it’s come to find someone     to pass on the news of escape
                  death is a dream in a dream
once asleep     then open up other knowledge
he thinks the hardness of a wooden chair
comes from its transparent interior     the corpse fades
                  and who’s shaking a glass of solution
she loosens her grip and has forgotten all her past lives
his dilution is interrogating     this emptied place
this corroded place     can water be counted as a kind of left over trace
when the wind blows in     dreams intertwine     explosion of an alarm clock
equals silence


An off-theme verse
Adagio one: Leipzig, Autumn
your movement has a kind of slowness     compared to leaves
yellow shining out from leaves’ palms     it’s even slower
                  but it catches the music in one grip
   Hotel Adagio in Leipzig
   autumn sleeps past Leipzig
   flames of war     condense into greetings on the street
                  school kids with a marching song in their mouths
                  piss on the empty sculpture pedestal
   his tongue tip touches an unfamiliar stone
piano keys are pressed     space has invented objects’ distant gaze
   waking up is like a lie
                  only birds say in song
  ceiling uses snow-white plaster to multiply a leopard
  leaping to the blue nude outside the window
  in his mouth     sticky taste of beer is making a collage of last night
  semen hugely spilling from the fridge     overhears a womb’s temperature
your movement has     the wind
turn slowly as it pushes planets embedded in music
                 no shocking news is sudden enough
  open the corner door between bathtub and garden
  dead fish’s sight     chases an apple rotten to its core
  open out breakfasts on ten thousand tablecloths
        Sunday     which organ isn’t a noisy pond of happiness
sky hesitantly writes music
a golden partridge looks down from the eleventh floor balcony
  his clouds     hang low over the carved flower on a tourist’s head
  his coughs     start on a journey beyond the railings
  a right ear separates lovers’ kisses
jump slowly down
         a red light at street corner one more beat later
                disbelieve spilled blood is real
  (when Leipzig is written about     blood spilled from all over the ground)
your movement extends to one of these moments     longer than autumn
leaves are smelting the code words on reeds     stronger
  push him     wake up twice with lies
                disbelieve     all that’s been heard


An off-theme verse
Adagio two: local graveyard, Summer
           tinnitus persists
rainstorm     overture to the concert tonight
    a cicada as big as you     is carrying you
    sound of a whistle urges sweltering flesh to come out of earth
    squirrels jump on gravestones like June electrocuted
another library is stuffed with me
weakness of marble     shown all around on recumbent roots
                  the right ear is like language
                  falling under the pressure of its own echoes
    the world is twice as noisy on the right
    only you hear     the trumpet-like human organ can’t be shut down
    only the right eye reads     the green fanning half its face
                  as black as the suicide note in a lawyer’s hand
inflation of weakness precedes any collapse
calcareous shouting     vomits broken swan necks
snow thrown into river valleys     too late for editing
                  who uses mouths to say in a rush
    when trees let you pass     pieces of purple crystal are cast one by one
    sounds of blasting can’t break on the thick fur of roses’ tongues
    one half of a bird rots
    another half drips with sweat
                  the orchestra is ghostly as light
all numbers marking memories, by a broken-sided spectacle frame
are added with     a minus sign
                  the void is competing too
a thousand pairs of tiny iron pieces applaud with all their might to start the show
when I endlessly gaze at the curtain call
    is it a rainstorm that never blows out of this ear
    or definite as the chirps of cicadas that garrison your body
       brush bright           fall
                  down     tonight is off balance
    die in summer     the weak is exactly the dazzling
    deafness drawing near silted-up hearing on the right
occupies me     catch sight in an instant of
    an oyster shell under the feet     destroying itself like you do
                  hear     all that’s been disbelieved


An off-theme verse
Adagio three: on the train, Spring

slowly revive a honeymoon after death
slowly     watch sunlight jump off the body’s train
he pouts his little lips with flower buds
    a moving hospital waiting-room     scenery is taking a roll call
    fresh green casually unbuttons an undergarment
        shrubs adjust an aerial
                  projecting old films in reverse
    in spring that waits to be dubbed     I
           pass through repeatedly     like a broken-down
hearing aid
slow     rivals in love hang upside down on the fence
    a girl’s vulva dazzles the eye     one by one
                  scalpels throw themselves onto my face
    birds are nailed to train windows     a conductor
                  dissects countless past events
    sky is rocking a glass     syringes of the rails
                  one sickness after another draws me back
                  to yesterday     the dead are drinking brief encounters
flowers fly to prehistory supported by broken stems
starlit sky     a golden timetable lets him be as late as he wants
head straight south     cast off its own shadow
                  iron roses pressed between pages pull away from distant hills
    a cloud in the pond     the whiter it is the more it looks like guts
    a roomful of sterilized post-coital lilacs
    a nurse sitting in light reflected by the window
    turns slightly round     plucks reality off a solid gold barb
                  I don’t want to listen     and so I turn deaf
he listens again and again     the world is a piece of old furniture
placed in love returned after death
                  love without flesh
                  rolls up a draft of distance
    a distant place secretes me     a series of small explosions
           brightly and sweetly
                  lick onto the focal point
    (approaching Leipzig     recall that a honeymoon has a topic)
the dead are so slow they attain perfection     that best possible gentleness
    is carried by the one who jumps off the train
                  believe     all that can’t be heard


clouds are like ten thousand women hurrying in frequent urination
the official blue     looks at them unmoved
a sudden snowfall    pigeons’ daily classes on instrumental performance
crash behind that string on the roof ridge
a big bunch of tulips arrogant red
and scentless     assail the nostrils
                  Hackney is simply a group of images

seeping more deeply than an address
a pear tree then gives the street corner a white flag of pipe dreams
a pause     climbs along the presumed stem
flooding his expired forty-seven years of age
to surrender to living is simply to be operated on

            imitate a starfish that meticulously constructs
            its own shape and colour

arrange an itinerary into a tight knot under the feet
separately execute     movements
clouds change again     sky adopts a swarm of scorpions
                 echoing the necessity of pain

people he meets all his life are as unavoidable as this place
the self he avoids from afar    the more amended the more likely it comes to
Hackney     when it slowly appears as a disposition
Complete collapse picks him up on his way home
to synchronize with a dry branch of winter jasmine in melted snow
                return behind the iris of the eye
                delicately ponder the delight of being exhausted


the Aare is young like a baby
her riverside city all      in this flesh-made riverbed
change     Hutuo     Hudson     Parramatta     broadened
up to Lea     thin, narrow and infinite
wildly wish an end to breathing

                         this reflection of light develops a zero process
           this book has never lost a drop of water

sit in front of the desk and hear the waves
help his shore     change into a dripping name
allocate to Braille     a smooth brownish-yellow forefinger

touch again and again     morning ceremonies
metaphysically naked in a cup of green tea
a hand holding the tea     passes through the nominal bull’s-eye of life
drink in one gulp the absoluteness of beheaded flowers everywhere

endure     the brighter, more unendurable
sunlight that develops into a stylus

                         time’s secret is this space
           poetry guarding human bodies gains more weight
       symmetrical aesthetics     symmetrical to that one tiny second
       which disperses in defeat under the skin

pornographically deny the source and origin
river bottom on paper     hollows out the days even more
let him design what is thrown off on the bends
suddenly kindle what dazzles in a grove of peach blossom

alternate blue and white stamens of flesh and blood leaping

                        the only passion is for mixing up past lives and future ones

as small water birds chirp to expose the cracks


An off-theme verse
— for R. B.

plumpness of poetry pursues a dead cat’s puffed-up body
passes beneath our windows     the steady speed of flood water
drives a small table holding a wine glass against the current
to where     this blacked-out city

long ago promised the gale-filled dark
let the scene of gazing after each other be rehearsed in the park
two white eels reciting on bumpy seats
only the sweet name of moonlit mice with rigor mortis is left

eyes tight shut to fly as high as the full moon
on the eighteenth floor an empty seal stamps into flesh
pouring     what will be gulped down tonight until intoxication
count     which number billboard is taking off from the rivets’ tips

twisted and broken smiles    rolling     dissolve on the sea
we don’t know which number sea is in which sequence
destiny     splashed-ink painting     withdraws a life’s phosphorescent footprints
hangs on two walls ten thousand miles apart


An off-theme verse
— for D. M.

the well died too     when my gaze had fallen to the bottom of the well
more broken up, it turned into your
or the lake’s     staring at the colourful cobbles tilting down
dark golden grove like a diving school

jump once more     touch once more into the inverted reflection
a sheet of deaf shining water
expand the third lung     a blackish blue plume drifting down
below the human     if an ultimate collapse exists

who puts the moon just opposite a tiny little balcony
whose night     slowly strides into his own language
salty taste still on the lips     tongue tip has been licking
the wind’s accent     I was taken from a nest

and you gently broke the eggshell open
to find the child     even looked down inside
even thought there really was a world waiting to be salvaged
like the dentures behind the smirk     between teeth
                  mother tongue is caught in a dilemma


An off-theme verse
— for Yoyo

to find that petal of ours     we must wait for winter     evening
the setting sun refines the windows on the other shore into gold
extinguished again     the age-old topic of going home
choked to death by terror of itself

we have to ask     how far beneath the water     that bright red is suffused
how far does twilight limp to kiss an earlobe
swans fly low     wing tips touch wing tips on the water’s surface
blood-dripping inverted reflection of armpits

point out that our dreams     can’t be farther away
the horizon always has the look of you on a bed
sweet as an assumption     I have to adorn my sense of smell
an island is like a glittering floating drop of oil

return     whether or not to let a smear of ash seep from the flesh
rolling up the edges as if to say     all of a life is too slow
the petal is destroyed     needing only a really cooled - down moment
really black     quietly integrated into the overlapping flowers of the night sky

An off-theme verse
Chaotic era
— for Zhang Zao

quicksilver hue merges into a vast expanse     corrodes into the eyes
the moss-covered wooden table at the lakeside displays
our loneliness     detaining end rhymes of snow
ten thousand beaks repeat one kind of white

the factual description of time     endless as a picnic
we’re sitting     fingers and claws dark green too
digging into deathly silence to be part of the deathly silent moon
write well     then write up to the revenge of gloomy life

a family tradition of having cranes     so show a fish card
water turns around at the same spot, twisting a small stony bone in its fingers
no turning     a big tree half fallen into the lake has four simultaneous seasons
snails are led to crawl by mouldy hearing     crawl

the little harbour of the starry sky has a wooden springboard
yet a ship was wrecked     tightly rolled-up sail looks as not yet invented
our apparent suffering     to be re-invented
to get rid of humans     lock into one’s own light and be utterly jubilant

what if early spring is annotating negative aesthetics too
rain and snow     alternate rituals
along her dripping wet shape

a foreign land isn’t an exam question
but body temperature is     a bird that sweeps past windows isn’t a sob
but passion is

a tiny little apple blossom
curls upward like a sorceress to the branch tip cleaned last year
what if a crow is spying on its own hunger again
what if one spies on a kind of death     but wants not to touch skin
only to caress the moonlight hanging down low

Hackney has the shape of an island

in his heart     deny the move of ocean
on her body     deny that meanings can vanish

                 “river, like lotus, is pronounced ho

                 “it flows through places under the ground”

about those hims     what can he remember
the book about water      read it again and still sink
bi-directional river presses up to a person’s blankness

sound of water carves a tiger lily on the table
sound of water     is chasing a cloud to scan it
skeletons still rigidly insist on the nature of turning green
how many times spring has been repeated
grass roots handcuff twitches     eulogizing in handcuffs
his submission     praised as the beauty of middle age

the brief touch of a bamboo cane     seagulls’ grey feathers lifted by the wind
footsteps slow down     days secretly speed up
to this rapidly flowing afternoon when nothing is written
at the eye sockets     a white stone windowsill like the horizon
is being swept far far away

interstellar     loneliness of water
fiercely smashes into a human womb like numberless light years

the bit that a tiger lily embraces with golden stripes
the bit that he washes with a whole valley he makes up
island’s end     full moon still staying empty for passion

spring night fabricates a faint sweetness
the blind     make up city lights in all directions
destroyed by a candle flame that has forever lost its memory
to be kindled into the lilacs     like a tugboat towing
non-existing geography
exist     wantonly pressed tight into a dead corner
by the two upper reaches of before and after

here     Waterways Classic Annotated is drifting itself
when this corner is painted dark blue it invokes a cry from a wild goose
the roll call a thousand years away     he’s called and then he appears
a biography overgrown with oysters     no writing
writing about rivers finished too    when the tiger lily is cut open he touches that flow
no way out but still have to flow

into     soundlessness     confirm

sheets of moonlight raised when ghosts walk are real


2  Or we could do this in Latin: Flumen, sicut lilium, ho dicitur.


An off-theme verse
A certain he: water is colourless
every colour is a lie     when water
endures one endless time and starts from the opposite shore
starts from a separation

every colour is lifting this rock higher
when breakers chase     and moonlight has learned to imagine
a dizzy elevation in stories all night long

we want to shut up but cannot     shut our eyes
in pitch-dark sky a big group of jellyfish is stinging the horizon too
pain     ardently salvages both images of sitting

my hands only survive for an instant on your body
then they’re injured     vocalists sing     remember this April
remember     an expanse of routed silver-white beyond spread-out vision

a kind of dark purity is inhaled into the lungs
so the body doesn’t fear the direction of a verse’s flow
forever barer    compared with a handful of snow or a piece of ice
even barer     when two seas splash each other
two overhearing right ears are buried into a drop of eternal water
enduring     colourlessness that no one can swim across

beyond the stars immortals go on yearning for a reunion day too
shake     an obviously empty glass
when     the leaking out of love is being made into a rainbow


An off-theme verse
Another he: green amber

five hundred thousand years include how many instants of being twenty-four
this piece of green is pausing     whole life of flowers
hidden under water     silver white kept for someone unknown
is carved non-stop into prettier skeletons
green     feel only in a hand’s grip     five hundred thousand years are like
a ceaseless shiver in our bodies

twenty-four summers secret fragrance hidden in flesh
we’re smelling our own sense of smell that has died once
pattering of raindrops     turns stiff in recollection
wet leaves of wutong trees and a window removed
move into    your past events     my past events
water level rising an inch everyday submerges two names

days without poetry are so good    without
happiness     ghosts don’t have to regret deeply inhuman coldness
without an injection of sunshine at 4:30pm
we don’t wait for     a sober moment, a poisoned moment
without words     you know the image of me
dripping off a wound just now

a glimpse     volume of green piled in sheets to fill a manuscript
cries of seagulls sounding like slips of the pen     stop in
the sky     my past events     your past events
you and I imagine a road     more sparkling only if it hasn’t been walked past
twice walk past     two universes that will grow old
pain preserved by a departure is so good

hugged by the green insides of a body
a petal dies once more glinting with silver    numberless petals
smelling the same post-mortem     spill of fragrance
when we catch up with our own shiver at last
flesh and blood written to fill twenty-four years of age     can be forgotten at last
hold fast     only five hundred thousand years will qualify as an instant


An off-theme verse
A certain he: leave along oneself
read backward from the end of a book
who can we meet again

from     sounds of birds stuck in blue clay and flapping their wings
sure     losing something is a kind of beauty too

when my letter arrives     even the handwriting has changed
the face of another person you printed on an old photo

ask the bird’s-eye view equipment     to remote sense
the crack at a corner of the mouth last night

cut into the flesh as if it’s fake     when it’s deep as someone hidden
destructive reality     the dark red inside of an oyster shell

who knows if there is that pearl of history
prized     your earlobes listening to pearly tears

my tongue tip     led by a magnet inside a bird’s head
revels in the sweet force of doomsday

leave along oneself     forward     breathing moves us far away
backward     go upstream along the bloody canal of mother’s labour

last night of many lives     the dead
ponder as they stroke that impossible temperature

many hands hide under the skin     five rotten fingers
bird songs thoroughly nipped off

thoroughness is an orbit     to penetrate a meticulously carved
death     this hand still can’t be found

hold a book in both hands     read from the end to the end
from the sound of shattering     relive how gentle we could be


An off-theme verse
Another he: in the water
cry for yesterday     but don’t cry like yesterday
desire and distance     twin themes
a person exhibits a still life already drowned at birth
and a river talks to itself exactly like a conversation
when they speak up     everyone in the water is crazy

crazy along with the setting sun     gilded dice on a crystal turntable
cinerary urn     holds a handful of ashes on the horizon at dusk
rubs you with a yesterday that’s just been replaced
persons changed into water     the wave that poem
no longer possible not to be obscure

the circle’s centre seals in the stupidity of these years
imagine there’s a transmigration     yet in which transmigration am I
in the palm five fish bones     that pure white polish faked one by one
under the water watching from far away the ink running all night again
seeping into     total lunar eclipse projected by the grammar of lunatics

I go back     but which pair of eyes can recognize me
you are vaguely left between white hairs
a reality     a past cooked drop by drop but never gone
seawater rewrites quietly the proportion of consanguinity
imagine an end     when the end is itself endless

when a scalpel takes one cut-off day to cut off our sex
when the depth of weariness     has wearied depth
treat me as an entrance to the sea     in the direction of zero
a storm palpitates with pink terror on your dividing line
listen to the zero point     start without hearing

25. An off-theme verse
gloaming in some garden

the sea’s horizon invisibly inspects these gaps in the wall
fan’s ivory ribs cast off one by one     among the pine needles
smell of sulphur set with peacocks
tiny dead footsteps

again words     divide two conversations still further
again more moments extracted from within this moment
birdsong     a space of waking at five p.m.
cigarette smoke curling, building up     marbles clap their wings

again more origins vanish  breathing
left behind     poking the soft belly of the sky
again it’s painless     a stretch of blue leaking electricity
extinguishing once in being appreciated is as fresh as the first time

the day so big     big enough to let broken oars of clouds drift by
we sit among smoke-cured trees
fallen in love long ago with a banished whistle
be darker    take tonight away again    with thousands of years