Yang Lian

Yang Lian Poems

Winter Garden

Trees frozen red in snow as if wearing tattered wind jackets Snow crunches underfoot As night rushes by with newly soled shoes Goats fear the loneliness and for their own ears Transform their bleating into wailing On the road a cow has just given birth Is covered in whip marks and lies panting in mud and blood Streetlights are on early and lovers dark like rocks Stand there with hazy faces against a metallic spiritual bed The field mouse is a weary nurse and furtively Sneaks through a wound in the garden to dream Flowers pale red flesh preserved underground Like when a child dies there is always a young ghost Stars not fully formed lock us behind an iron fence 2 Those who distrust language the most are poets In white snow roses wilt at birth And flames are far away from a pair of chilly hands Winter is busy like a hardworking editor I am snipped by the sunlight And bend to smell the worsening stench of my corpse In the north wind of one person the garden died long ago Existing for ghosts and finally returning to ghosts Blue music of tree and tree arises from the sheer loneliness So the same big snowfall twice falls from my shoulders Covering the garden I am forgotten Trudging up to the road I become a mistake And like a hoarse throat in the light of the deserted street Chant withered words bearing witness to many years

Grafton Bridge

As you cross the bridge the graveyard below draws close Pine trees raise their suspicious faces A sea of the dead with the stench of iron sheeting Rust coloured sunlight circles about Like an old dog sniffing at you A dog's eye staring scenery on the bridge is unusually clear Sky a withered dead volcano a crimson fist On a cheap headstone a drop of stale blood Clouds bring together all of yesterday's storms But are sullied by bird claws The handrail brings you home transparent windows are open You are crossing the bridge at home A whole city is located in a sickroom Green weeds link so many footsteps Rock owners under rock roofs close in Iron owners in iron corridors close in Hallucinations are seen death has no need for speed Where you are headed is still the point at which you turn old The dead on the grass look down to you it is the same distance But as if manacled with glass handcuffs you must return To inspect and repair each bridge pylon of today's crimes A child running wildly amongst a flock of snow-white seagulls Suddenly stands still to shout out because of the stars To weep loudly because of the sharp lingering pain of black night

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

Dead Poet's City

Not only those who have lived can die Those names buried in silence all through life Subscribe to silence in this city you have dismantled An empty street pretends to be a funeral procession Moonlight hard like iron Bones clanking in iron hands What is outside the window is long forgotten little drums beat Each word deleted by you in life returns to delete you Unsparingly deletes savagely deletes World deleted specimens of faces are closer and clearer Eyes deleted eyesight polishes glass edges Carves a paper bird with delicate lines Like the one you saw smashed Crumpled discarded on a rotting manuscript in the corner Your final death is already familiar An old house waiting to shift out dead skeletons

Cruel Children

Children dance in a circle around a drop of the mother's blood Their snowy white arms are born to hit Weary eyes all around First tooth planted in a pink field As a low-hanging walnut is cracked They watch the mother's twitching face smile Smiling splashing water in the sky Bending on black nights inlaid with no sleep When children do not sleep the world must also be awake Wild skiing on long scratches Listening intently for the newest command River more transparent weeping more visible Hostility flows increasingly like unformed flesh A bloodstained lipstick cannot be washed clean Children dancing With mothers worn on their feet Like favourite toys to be wilfully destroyed Like tasty hands untiringly dragged into the future When they use deathly cruel silence to frighten the sun Angels and green flies join hands to clap A bean is familiar with bolting the last door

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