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 Stars Poetry

That Year in Haikou


Shilin Ou
Translated from Chinese by Liang Yujing
 
June 10th, 1989. At 7 p.m., on a street in Haikou,
I suddenly found myself still alive, though penniless,
falling asleep easily without a bed,
envious of a dog, who at least never lacked food.
In retrospect, it was only a sensation of hunger.
I'd been used to staring at the scraps left by others
on an empty stomach, yet couldn't help trembling.
I idled along by the sea, blankly watching the men and women
on the beach, and pressed the doorbells
at every office building, but seldom got an answer.
The waiting lounge was supposed to be a public place for hobos.
I walked to and fro on the platform, pretending my train
would arrive in a moment.
A security guard came to chase me off, as I hurriedly hid my shivering hands
in my pockets. He said: if you really
want to die, die now!
He looked even a bit like me, wearing a pair of myopic glasses,
whose lenses looked so thick.
I imagined he'd go, like me, after work
to buy white burn, two yuan a bottle
drinking it to burn his lonely heart.
Temporary numbness would turn him into an immortal with no need for food.
Mornings he'd wake up to find a burning stomach,
a dumb throat and a head too heavy to raise itself.
Days later, I finally got a job, to deal with trash and the stench of urine.
Fingering the hard coins in my pocket, I suddenly felt
this bitch of a city had somehow turned into a vast land of heaven.

About the author:

Shilin Ou is a Chinese poet. He is the chief editor of the on-line magazine Stars Poetry, which showcases Chinese and international poetry and is published in various languages. His works appear in major Chinese literature magazines Poetry Monthly, Flora City and Chinese Literature, etc. He is the author of two poetry anthologies Scenes of Incidents and Tell Me About Jerusalem. Being bilingual, he also writes and publishes English poems in countries like UK, USA and Australia.







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