Floral Mutter

Ya Shi


In summer        slit open a plump, cool lotus root
taste the sweet juice frothing up from its orifices.
On the rooftop       a dense and scorching pressure crowds inward
but . . . it's vague and speechless like the long wind.
The great many cruelties of life have gone ignored for ages.
—and what is loathsome is more or less similar
for all that is vulgar, keep strumming your shiny eccentricity!

The Moon

The tenderness of self-love can go to hell!
The locust has the locust's rationality, the dagger the dagger's
reasoning: in this unavoidable life
are so many who can finally forgive themselves—
rainwater soaks the tree roots, lightning
bisects the whetstone in the foothills in a flash
my question is: if god did just as he pleased
would the moon still whisper its secrets to wicked people? 

Translation and a Daoist Song

1. Translation

In life        we throw up too much dust.
Death ends this reprehensible behavior.
If we talked out the thoughts and mirages that bind us
how could it be better        than getting tipsy
and half-undressing, lying there in the half-light
of the tree's shade        sunbathing?

2. Daoist Song

Life like light on dust, death like dust in light.
A particolored fantasy. The fish flesh getting cold. 

Waking in the Night, Flipping the Light on. The Switch is a Bit Cold.

Perhaps you will write a line of poetry, perhaps.
In your tears is the tail of a steelhead trout, you say: the night is molting—
                                                                                    a mustard seed!

It's not good to be too sweet-sounding. It's not.
In early summer you'd just dug out an enormous listening station from
                                                                                    the green jade
of your body: how could it be unrelated to past and future flowers? Better
                                                                                    let your poems know.

Brief Sentences

Another day gone.
I have consumed all the substances I am supposed to, but
have not contributed that single small breath
of cool air.
Like a salmon in the dark and frothing water
gently releasing its floral mutter. 

translated from the Chinese by Nick Admussen