new zealand electronic poetry centre


Yang Lian

online works



as you cross    the cemetery beneath the bridge closes in
pinetrees raise suspicious faces
an ocean of the dead    like iron, giving off a fishy smell
the rusty sunlight has passed by
sniffs at you like an old dog
a dog staring    the scene is particularly clear from the bridge

a sky shrivelled by extinct volcanoes    a dark red fist
a drop of the past’s blood on a low-budget headstone
clouds    merge into yesterday’s storm
and are fouled by the claws of birds

transparent windows opened    by the balustrade you brought home
you cross the bridge at home
an entire city lodged in a sickroom
green weeds linking so many feet together
under a stone roof the stone master closes in
in an iron corridor the iron master closes in
fantasizing with the eyes    death need not speed up
that end where you go away and turn old
the dead on the lawn looking down at you    are all the same
distance away

but you have to come back    as though fettered by handcuffs of glass
to overhaul every pier of today’s sins
a child running crazy among snow-white seagulls
standing suddenly still    crying loudly for the stars
with a pain abruptly extended in the night    bitterly weeping


note: Grafton Bridge, Auckland, NZ. Known locally as ‘Suicide Bridge’.

© Yang Lian

Last updated 13 October, 2001