from Occupy Stories

Chung Kwok Keung


I trekked down to this road from the North Eastern mountains
The mist not yet fully dispersed
The waxing moon between the gap in the tent flaps
Is a single eye forcing itself open
All night long my ears are filled with the sound of a lonely island's tides
I did not hear the skin, still hot with pitch
Crying out in pain, to me
For many years now, still an unused tent peg

Between me and you and you there is always distance
But right now we are pressed together drinking the night-green wine
Our thoughts do not follow a straight line
But our wills are caught in a tug of war
I know of course how tall the tent is
I know that outside the three heavy mills-barriers
The night lays siege to the city, in a tight embrace
That is an impenetrable overnight dream even for birds
Head hits the ground, blood splatters in the sky, becoming the rain of past lives

Only you know what kind of life this is
Open grassland already shrunk to a square of canvas, language becomes slanted
Sliding to the very end, pushing at the start of a stammer with the end of my nose
Always waiting, with a hollowed abdomen, for you to turn back
Yes, inside there is the kind of muteness which is a neighbour to silence
When your heart presses closer to the ground than to your ear
You can hear, in the gap between the tide going out and coming in

In the gap between the tide going out and coming in
The constellations extinguished, a sudden gale rises
Your sleeves distend in beautiful arcs
And I am plucked from that island in the sea
Remember, that tent peg forever rejected by the city
The mist dissolves over people's faces and pupils
We follow the empty road, rising up one by one
Glistening yellow lamp after glistening yellow lamp
We soar past the stabbing skyscrapers and finally scatter
Like the ash that glitters after a fire
Those mountains stretch from the north-east to the south-west, downy like a dream

10 December 2014

Water Horse

I am constantly flowing, I have lately poured myself in here and taken shape
Like a red brick, a white wall, to guard
One must resist, this constant quiet is for my studies, like the seventy five nights
Regardless of the strength and voices that rise and fall outside, I am as still as 
                         a mountain

Like the mountain behind my home, where the water becomes a lake, listen
There is no sound, and yet you can hear a sound, as if you – exhausted –
Lie by my side, the dreamers can hear

Hear him, and yet another him, like a forest in the wind, the mountains
In the midst of flames, their anger collides
Pushing on, still there, from the start to the end

I stay constantly still, studying, sitting quietly here as if this were my home
A home constantly facing hardships so I learn again how to let go, away
From home there is still, his, and his, so I flow
Over the ground, the horse runs elsewhere, poured into a different self

13 December 2014 

Chalk Drawing

That is the sky that is the ground that is person and person and person
Flowers and grass, fish and insect, and insect and rain and still raining
Raining on the wooden doors on the cabinet on the table top on the back of the chair on
                        the back panel of the radio
Raining on the face of the returning mother, rain without clouds
The chalk is all spilled is that still chalk? Those are our fingers drawing, still drawing

That is the frame that is the rack that is the edge that is the border that is the teacher
Yesterday is drawn today, yesterday's line is hers so is the blackboard
Her face, her fingernails painted red within the borders, her heavy eyeliner
Also, also yesterday's sentence constructions the day before yesterday's conjunctions,
                        despite after not although
Although frogs are not green warm water is not warm, but she said, therefore she said,
                        furthermore also she said

She said if rivers are long if mountains are high if cities snake if the breeze is gentle on a
                        sunny day
If people go hand in hand, hand in hand, ascending, gazing, the ground beneath my feet
Isn't it us? If we hold our pen with our unique grip if we are calm and steady
Mustn't use too much force, use too much force, we will crush those chalk tips to
                        powder, suddenly shatter the Great Wall
Is shortened, the Yellow River is dried up, people are missing brothers and sisters the
                        end of the chalk sprinkled over the sky like white fireworks

That is smoke that is water that is an umbrella that is our road our blackboard
The chalk tip is sowing seeds the farmer is ploughing inside the city there are no fields,
                        clearing out the flowers
Clearing out the grass clearing out roots, clearing out face after face not normally seen
Not seeing the end of the road is not seeing the end of the night is us failing to finish
                        drawing tomorrow's
Sea wave tree wind cloud uncle, the room's cat

That is the sky that is the ground that is person and person and person
That is still raining, raining, it is not the street-sweepers
We watch the chalk tip dissolving into lakes dissolving into rivers dissolving into the
                        harbour over there
We still have fingers can still draw can still draw and the night is a background wash
The night is a background wash we still haven't become the night, although, but, finally

12 December 2014

translated from the Chinese by Emily Jones and Sophie Smith

Editor's Note: These three poems are from a suite of five entitled "Occupy Stories" that Chung wrote between December 10 and 13, 2014. Police began clearing the main protest site on December 11.