Two Poems

Yang Zi


He drank the ink,
devoured the rag,
smeared mud on his face
and cut a neat windbreaker into pieces.
He felt his body
had already jumped off the balcony.
But it didn't fall,
just floating.
This life, this time,
wrapped in the weeds of feelings
and the puddle of desire,
floating . . .


He drank off a bottle of ink,
he wanted to be poisoned.
He drank off a bottle of ink,
he wasn't poisoned.
He was already poisoned.
He was destroyed by useless desires,
a member of the army sacrificed.

translated from the Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Read the original in Chinese, Simplified

Yang Zi (b. 1963) is a proclaimed contemporary Chinese poet and the author of a dozen books including Border Fast Train (1994), Gray Eyes (2000) and Rouge (2007). After his university studies in Chinese literature, he lived in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for nine years and co-founded the literary journal Big Bird. In 1990, he was appointed Vice Alderman of Tahaqi Village. Since 1993, he has lived in the southern coastal city, Guangzhou and now works as the Associate Chief Editor of the Nanfang People Weekly. Also known as a poetry translator, he has introduced the writings of Osip Mandelshtam, Paul Celan, Fernando Pessoa, Gary Snyder, Charles Simic and other Western poets to Chinese readers.

Fiona Sze-Lorrain writes and translates in English, French and Chinese. Her recent work includes translation of Auxeméry's Mingus, méditations (Estepa Editions, 2011), prose translations of Hai Zi (Tupelo Press, 2012) and Water the Moon (Marick Press, 2010), an Honorable Mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award in 2011. Forthcoming: two books of translation of poetry by Bai Hua and Yu Xiang (both from Zephyr Press, 2012). A zheng concertist, she is a co-editor at Cerise Press and co-director of Vif éditions, an independent French publishing house in Paris. This is a link to her website.