new zealand electronic poetry centre


Yang Lian

online works




trees frozen red in the snow    as if wearing worn-out wind-breakers
snow crunching underfoot
the hurried night always wears brand-new soles

goats fear loneliness    for every year
cries become bitter weeping

the path    a cow, just dropped a calf
scarred head to tail by the whip, panting paralysed in bloody mud

streetlamps come on still earlier    lovers dim as stones
stand, faces blurred, by a metal bier
the vole is an exhausted nurse    stealthily
slinking into the gardenís wounds to dream
flowers    are preserving their pink flesh below ground
like dead children     straightaway, fresh tender ghosts

underdeveloped stars lock us up with iron railings


in this world the ones who trust writing least    are poets
in the blank snow roses have been withering since birth
the flame is far away from two cold hands
winter bustles about    like an industrious editor
I    become something spiked by the sunlight
bending to sniff at my death-stench which grows daily stronger
in one manís north wind    the garden long ago ceased to be
existing for the imagination    in the end, as always, returning to the imagination
the blue music of tree and tree    is played only on silence
so the same heavy snow has twice fallen on my shoulders
when it covers the garden    I am forgotten
stepping on an intersection    I am mistaken
under the lamps the empty street is like a hoarse throat
declaiming    and for years the withered and fallen words look on



some people, addicted to corpses   love to stroll in winter gardens
people who salute ruins    can appreciate
a plot to drown a kitten in a ditch
pressing its head down like crushing a walnut
itís definitely children    children running into the garden

children know better than anyone how to trample flowers

even our dying day is unreal    a piece of a charred pole
poking slantwise from the ground like the crocodileís long snout
the sky is so gloomy it seems like daylight sleep
fishbones vomited by the ocean    stab us too
in dreams live fish, scraped clean of scales, are stabbed one by one
alive beneath the travelling knife

all flesh is reduced to a place with no power to look back

touch    all that is touched is non-existent
and cancer swells impalpably in the depths
a black pregnant woman    enwrapping a raped springtime
a treetrunk sliced by sight
swansí necks become pale underwater snares
once we have divided the world with fractured compound eyes
we are all blind    each spectre sets the white snow off
exposed in the dry ice-hard wind
endures the pain of bones budding

until    the garden is shamed into colour
lashed all its life by an unidentifiable season


© Yang Lian

Last updated 13 October, 2001