from October Dedications

Mang Ke

Dedications: 1972–1973

               For Life

sometimes I go shout in the valley
and when the valley sends me my voice
my voice
shocks my heart

               For Baiyangdian

oh great land
you arouse my passions

               For the Sun

once more you're awoken
hair gone salt and pepper

               For a Poet

you are an eagle flying toward the graveyard

               For a Girl

time cannot comprehend humanity
but in a hurried encounter
she gave me something like warmth

               For the Night

no woman can make a man giddy
and no man can make a woman pregnant

               For Ping's 18th Year

in the wide eyes of the sickly child
go learn about beauty

               For Poetry

the cold but great imagination
is you transforming
the desolation of our lives

               For Someone

only the world is enough

               For a Friend

these powerless hands
become forceful fists

               For Winter

lights like a match
to give warmth
to burn
and to be burnt

               For my 23rd Birthday

in health
full of thought



sunlight grows on the earth
it takes the face of day
and pushes up through the ground
with its stalk
and those bones that also have
pushed the soil off their selves
looking first at
the sky overhead
with their rolling empty eye sockets
then around
at the crowding flora
and then rush
crawling back to wherever
each longs for . . .

sunlight grows on the earth
and amidst it a horde of
people recently escaped from darkness



suddenly the lamp turns on
I only see the sharp claws of the light
stomping on the cold faces of drunks
the lamp, beating its great wings
shows me in shock
beneath its great wings
wine flows forth
from what look like dead eyes . . . 

suddenly the lamp turns on
the light creates a disturbance
I hear the shouts of drunks
where'd it fly in from
why don't we get rid of it
why do we let it eat off us
we'd rather die in the dark . . .

suddenly the lamp turns on
I hear only someone's whispered question
you think this lamp should stay on
or should it be turned off


translated from the Chinese by Lucas Klein