A Poem by Duo Duo

Duo Duo多多

Duo Duo 多多 (pen name of Li Shizheng), born in Beijing in 1951, is the most prominent poet in contemporary China, one of the Misty poets along with Bei Dao, Mang Ke, Yang Lian, etc. He was in exile for 15 years from 1989, returning to China in 2004 and winning the Chinese Literature Media Award in the same year. He has been teaching in Hainan University since 2004 and was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2010.


It’s morning or any time, it’s morning.
You dream of waking up, you're afraid of waking up
so you say: you're afraid of ropes, afraid of women with faces of birds, so
you dream of your father
speaking bird words, drinking bird milk.
You dream of your father as a bachelor
who by chance, not in a dream
had you, you dream the dream your father dreamed.
You dream that your father says: this is a dream a dead man dreamed.

You don't believe but you're inclined to believe
this is a dream, only a dream, and it’s yours:
it was once the handlebar of a bicycle keeping the shape squeezed by a hand.
Now it droops from your father's belly.
It was once a son refusing to be born.
Now it’s you
crawling back to that handlebar. You've dreamed of all the details
like the teeth your father dropped on the ground, glittering
and laughing at you.
So you are not the death
but merely a case of death: you've dreamed your dream’s death.


Translated from the Chinese by Ming Di

(More Poems by Duo Duo  )

A Poem by Bai Hua柏桦

Bai Hua 柏桦 is one of the most prominent post-Misty poets in China, born in Sichuan in 1956, currently teaching at the Southwestern Transportation University. He has published numerous collections of poetry and essays and won many awards including Anne Kao Poetry Prize and Rougang Poetry Prize.

March in Karlstad, Where God is Speeding Past

Early morning, what is the quivering calmness evading?
Karlstad! Tall gods and goddesses flash by
speeding… before the City Hotel
Empty streets; ice lake, European container houses with no one…

As a heart from 2011 walks on a stone bridge of 1797
the naked birch tree nerves terrify me

In March, a textile factory springs out of the forest
Please! Stir furiously the art of afternoon. In harmony
yet another god speeds past —

I see a Chinese scientist holding an iPad
crossing the Swedish sky like a falling star

Translated from the Chinese by Dennis Mair

(More poem by Bai Hua)


A Poem by Sun Wenbo


Your snow is not mine. My snow is in the courtyard.
In early morning I walk out, find snow on the ground
with my dog's footprints— but not the way one draws
on a blank sheet of paper. No, it’s a freehand landscape.
My dog draws without intention. Still I see mountains
and waters there— I see Mt. Emei and River Minjiang
with clouds hanging and a beautiful woman washing clothes.
You might say I’m far-fetched, and maybe I am.
I can go even further, be more far-fetched
and say I see philosophy in the snow, not Kant
or Kierkegaard but a philosophy of fleeting moments.
Have you experienced keeping your eyes focused on something,
only to see it disappear quietly? That is happening now.
I’ve stood on this porch for less than an hour,
half of the ground has surfaced— things are returning
to the original form. My snow is perhaps not snow,
but something to show me the meaning of loss.

Translated from the Chinese by Ming Di

( More poems by Na Ye)

A Poem by  Lü De'an

Night at Ocean Corner and Women

Ocean Corner, Ocean Corner,
a fishing village
in the shape of a fisherman's footprint,
immerses in water like a fan spreading its spikes.
A black shirt with sparkling stars
blows across
when a small night falls. And here

people sleep early, with salty air outside
the windows. Nearby, evening lights
on fishing boats scatter, a sign of
nets down in the ocean— they’ve waited
a thousand years for the fish.
Night is dark. Children cry as if there’re no parents
around— they’re in deep dreams.
Children cry. But it’s

time to go to sleep. Children get quiet. So does
the small night
at Ocean Corner. Everyone sinks into happiness
with a foaming smile
and this is the most beautiful moment—
no voices by the men’s side gently elbowing
“Time to go to sea.”

( More poems by Lü De'an )

A Poem by Xi Chuan

My Grandma

My grandma coughs, waking a thousand roosters.
A thousand roosters crow, waking ten thousand people.
Ten thousand people walk out of the village, the roosters in the village crowing still.
The rooster crowing stops, my grandma coughing still.
My still-coughing grandma mentions her grandma, her voice getting softer.
As if it were my grandma’s grandma’s voice getting softer.
My grandma talks and talks and then stops, shutting her eyes.
As if it were only now that my grandma’s grandma really died.

( More poems by Xi Chuan)

A Poem by Zang Di 

The Universe Is Flat

The news came on the radio
when I was in the kitchen
slicing cucumbers. Two cucumbers,
skin scraped off,
and cut into round flat pieces—
This is just one outcome.
To soak the slices in the small world
of sesame oil, salt, and rice vinegar,
is to be tied to another outcome—
How many people are coming to dinner?
Any unexpected guests?
How many real ingredients will conflict?!
Or, equally related to the outcome,
why does it make me happy
to hear someone announce on primetime
that the universe is flat?
Wonderful! Or, is it really that wonderful?
My intuition might not be accurate,
but it's strong like the tides of light,
the same way as when I look around the kitchen
for a brief moment—
the chopping board is flat, the knife is flat,
and all the lids, large or small,
are flat. Only the plates are not just flat
but vividly patterned.
The masks, true or false, are flat;
the pills are flat, and when
the most beautiful woman lies down
even the gods are flat.

(More poems by Zang Di )

A Poem by Jiang Hao

The Shape of the Ocean

Every time you ask about the shape of an ocean
I should bring you two bags of ocean water.
This is ocean's shape, like a pair of eyes,
or the shape of ocean that eyes have seen.
You touch them, as if wiping away
two burning tears, as tears
are the ocean’s shape, too, the clarity
springing from the same soul.
Putting the bags together will not 
make the ocean wider. They are still fresh,
as if two non-fish will soon swim out.
You sprinkle the water to the sand of flour,
the bread, also, is the shape of the ocean.
Before you slice it with a sharp sail
it leaves, like a departing boat. The plastic bags
left on the table, also have the ocean's shape, flat
with tides retreating from the beaches.
When the real tide goes away,
there’s salt left, shaped as the ocean too.
You don't believe? I should bring you a bag
of water and a bag of sand, the shape of ocean.
You affirm, you deny; then you non-affirm,
and non-deny? Go on and try out yourself,
as this is your shape too. But you say
“I’m only the image of myself.”

(More poems by Jiang Hao )

A Poem by Chen Jun

Hollow Man

He is eager to pour out his heart,
pulling it into a windmill,
a tower, a pagoda.
Many chests bang.
The steaming chimney of the train
eats fog,
and spits out
fragmented dreams in the sound of running water.
This heart,
so tired as to rush out three miles away,
wishes to fly up.
Summer is not bleak
in its arrangement of the empty barren. 


( More poems by Chen Jun)

A poem  by Na Ye 娜夜

Na Ye 娜夜 is an ethnic Manchurian poet in China. She spent most of her life in the wild west Lanzhou as a journalist but is recently relocated to Chongqing City in central China. She has won both of the two major awards for poetry in China, People’s Literature Award and Lu Xun Award.

Half Moon

Climbs up from the base of an ancient
a listening

—the half moon
up, from a realistic hay, a low life,
an interior bonfire—

the bare autumn has fruits remain in the tree branches!

In the rest half of the night
my right face gets scratched by barley ears… but wait,
let me turn my left face
toward you.

Translated from the Chinese by Ming Di

Mindy Zhang 明迪

Mindy Zhang 明迪 is a Chinese poet and translator, author of six collections of poetry. She has translated four books of poetry into Chinese, and edited and co-translated four volumes of poetry from Chinese into English including New Cathay - Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Tupelo Press 2013) and Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press 2015).


Give me distraction, the crossroads:
the winging of a cicada,
the held breath of impending summer.
The distraction,
the unfolding of gardenias as they awaken
from the deep jades of sleep. 
They smell of faraway places.

In a foreign land, my eyes like petals
crave the beam of sunlight,
the dews, the brief letters from you, where I see
us meeting in a field, holding
the same flowers, small and pale,
as lonely as the world led by coincidence.
We sit atop the outspread newspapers,
wearied by the old expectation—

we watch the yellow pieces fall,
and gather them in our palms
like the green bushes nearby silently hoarding
their small happy moments.

Translated from the Chinese by Sylvia Burn with the author

( More poems by Mindy Zhang)

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