from Nobita

Jing Xianghai


Outside, a sudden rain.
But my will within is clear.
One night's snow
has melted into mist
hanging over fish meat.
(Haven't you remarked? A chopping machine
is what the age has become.)
Thus the weights.
I thought I needed discipline.
(Such a private matter, I'd tell only you.)
A dumbbell sits on my chest.
You I place in my heart.
Training is about to begin.


Gentleness. An endlessly rotating
microwave. The times I'm free, you're
not. The sky outside the window
like a lion's mane, coiling round a nexus.
Loneliness. A kitten tucked in a yard, afraid
to be seen... Only a deeper night, flickering
porn. Like a flower, the magnificent swell, unattainable
Bliss. I want to know there exists in this life
something more important.

Loch Ness

When it comes, what kind of
gargantuan will it be? is its soul

the one with flashing lights
its head with horns stuck on?

could you, on its neck,
take cover from rain?

when first you meet
set things straight

the cost of hesitation is
you each live on in someone else's myth

primordial wars, primordial hurts: life —
this collapsible heap

of faunae: the really big ones
          have already gone

These Chance Encounters

— so hypnotic
the howl of a faraway wind is gently quelled
an entire planet's migraine sufferers are needed to doze it off
sleepwalkers creeping along a petal
burst into debate, applause

— so heroic
one grenade takes care of almost everyone
borrow light from the fire to ask the survivors' names
often we bomb entrances, clothes, ourselves
and never get that longed-for martyrdom

— so magical
all the lake surfaces under the brume
strike an accord with us
ah! should doves scatter now from this moment's hat
should icy hail drop from this moment's sky

— so peaceful
hitting you unawares ball after ball, singling you out fatefully arrow after
(no matter the palm reading, no matter the revolution, let's do it)
lying in ambush
at one corner of the imagination
how corrupt, this secret that I love you
how absolute, this secret that I love you

translated from the Chinese by Lee Yew Leong

Read the original in Chinese, Traditional

Read the translation in Chinese, Simplified

Jing Xianghai is a Taiwanese psychiatrist as well as poet and essayist. His three collections of poems are A Wanted Man (2002), A Mental Home (2006) and Nobita (2009); his collections of essays Looking for Friends Along the Coastline (2004) and A Welder of the Milky Way (2011).

Born in Taoyuan, Taiwan, in 1976, Jing was educated at Chang Geng University, where he earned a general doctor's degree. In 2009, he passed his exams to qualify as a psychiatrist and started practicing in a hospital in Taipei.

In 1996, he began posting his first poems on BBS. By the time he set up his blog, "The Thief Who Steals From Jing Xianghai," in 2004, he had already acquired a loyal following as a result of his well-received debut collection, A Wanted Man, which came out in 2002. Celebrated by the poetry reading masses (these exist in Taiwan), Jing has been included in the annual anthology The Best Taiwanese Poetry almost every year since 2001 and is easily the best-selling as well as most acclaimed Taiwanese poet of his generation.

Lee Yew Leong is the founding editor of Asymptote. He is the author of three hypertexts, one of which won the James Assatly Memorial Prize for Fiction (Brown University). Currently based in Taipei, he has published in The New York Times, Words Without Borders and DIAGRAM, among others.