by Liu Waitong, translated from the Chinese by Lucas Klein
TOMORROW THERE WILL BE MORE DEATHS TO KILL THE DEATHS OF TODAY
After we died
ten thousand chances to save us.
After we died
they stood at attention like autumn eyeballs
sliced open in silence, ten thousand of
Today there are more deaths to numb the deaths of yesterday.
Yesterday, jammed bullets
shot out hands that stifle screams.
Every year on the birthday of the late born children
they steal a bicycle.
At thirty, their coming-of-age ritual is still not over.
Good night, China
Tomorrow there will be more deaths to kill the deaths of today.
Good night, China
It was you who hid the key
you who forgot yourself in the end
getting lost in some corner of the map.
After thirty years of talking about it,
the dead have finally taken this city south.
After thirty years of reformation
the scene of the incident was taken south and turned into this city.
So let Beijing empty out its map again
we bear the thunderbolt that shouldn’t be borne.
End once more this puberty on a bicycle
extinguish your cell phone, the spectral singer is the sound of your navigator.
The tea bag was steeped until the table was covered in blood
one stray bullet was pulled out and placed in the center of a plate.
The time for afternoon tea is over!
We are still being licked by twilight, but are poisonous.
The tanks slump
We will bloom a black flower
and proclaim: we are innocent, and refuse to wither
our linked arms are not crying for help
we slice open the buds of death
and out from its womb will pull ourselves.
The square is renamed
no need for passersby to cry at night
a white fish candle fell over and burned up a scroll of the Song of Songs.
Our quicksilver dance moves are not in mourning
our births only have to do with life
bringing wandering ghosts into the ranks of birth.
Good night, Hong Kong
All the curtains yet to be raised will be raised
All unfinished goodbyes will be completed.
Good night, Hong Kong!
On this train skipping stations, we are all passengers
no more holding the handrail, as our hands are full of explosives.
Yesterday has no ashes, leave them for tomorrow’s hunger.
24–28 May, 2019
Liu Waitong 廖偉棠 (author) is a poet, writer and photographer. He has been awarded several literary prizes in Hong Kong and Taiwan, including the China Times Literary Award, the United Daily News Award, and the Hong Kong Arts Development Award for Best Artist (Literature). He often receives invitations to participate in local and international literary events, including Poetry International Rotterdam in 2013 and Singapore Writers Festival in 2016. Since his debut in 1995, Waitong has published 13 collections of poetry, including Cherry and Vajra, The Cup of Spring, and Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits. He is also a photographer with several works, such as In Search of Tsangyang Gyatso, Lonely China, Paris: Photos de scène sans titre, and The Darkening Planet.
Lucas Klein (translator) is a father, writer, and translator, as well as assistant professor in the School of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong. His translation Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems of Xi Chuan (New Directions) won the 2013 Lucien Stryk Prize, and his scholarship and criticism has appeared in Comparative Literature Studies, LARB, Jacket, CLEAR, PMLA, and other venues. Other publications include October Dedications, his translations of the poetry of Mang Ke (Zephyr Press and Chinese University Press, 2018), and contributions to Li Shangyin (New York Review Books, 2018), as well as the monograph The Organization of Distance: Poetry, Translation, Chineseness (Brill, 2018). His translations of the poetry of Duo Duo, forthcoming from Yale University Press, recently won a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant. (Photograph of Lucas by Zhai Yongming.)