Translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern
You have a strange pet—
one eye is a cat’s, the other a sheep’s.
Yet, it won’t socialize with felines,
will attack any flock of sheep.
On moonlit nights,
it wanders on roofs.
When you’re alone,
it will lie in your lap,
slowly studying you until—
on its face—a challenge.
Source: Liu, Xia, Di Ming, Jennifer Kronovet, Herta Müller, and Yiwu Liao. Empty Chairs: Selected Poems. 2015.
Begin reading about Liu Xia here and then Google her name and pay attention to learn more.
I encourage readers to purchase the book here, and listen to a conversation between poet Rachel Zucker and translator Jennifer Kronovet on a recent episode of the Commonplace Podcast. You can financially support (as I do) Commonplace Podcast—a brilliant, important project exploring the work of influential working artists—on Patreon.
“The background of tradition of profound conviction that men and women and children do not change, that science is interesting but does not change anything, that democracy is real but that governments unless they tax you too much or get you defeated by the enemy are of no importance.”
Gertrude Stein in Paris France
i see her sipping tea
she wants to write
the Great American Joke Book
sour-milk yellow sniffling yolk but
they get in the way
the hardcover wesleyan
in a cable-knit sweater
the canadian monthly
masked in a methylin-soaked love letter
hands up baby
“But if I said it was the only thing that mattered
That everything else was play, was yarn, was
A 40-year-old Knock Knock joke, would you”
their theories enjamb me
up against the wall, headlines
like licorice fingernails
like bricks — she draws blood
the thinking woman left to only sit
and listen to what’s left of rain
sweet and silent, waiting, pried
loose by synthetic rubber.
keep yr both heels lifted
high above yr head
work is, we’re all sure,
a poor excuse for rules
mercy pockets burglar tools
but stalks from door to door
hopeful wields a rented ford
and searches for a little more
in spite of the police reports
neither will be seen or caught.