The Game of Lies Poem by Yang Lian

The Game of Lies

When we tell lies tiger stripes disturb the black night Road cruelly betrayed by streetlights Lies replacing pedestrians We stroll but an ant charges into forbidden zones of sleep talk Must understand fingers Moon's dead weight at each setting And foolish cries for help from some small throat No a person never lies to himself It is only words playing with him Playing at being asleep we dream of the sea Playing with the sea we drift to another island Going ashore when hungry We raise or butcher parrots or monkeys And again turn into fierce rocks But we say nothing and in saying nothing Arms become crocodiles snapping at each other's tail in dead water We believe those self-deceiving words to be Real the last day contained in each line of poetry Preserves a face in a mirror smashed many years ago Long earlobes Hang on an iron hoop rolled by a boy A lifetime of suns rolling to the abrupt slope of a black night When words gush out a mute is born Demented silence in the mute's heart A tiger's inner silence as it pounces on a gazelle Flesh is torn without even the rustle of paper We have always been mute And so are manipulated by lies

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