new zealand electronic poetry centre


Yang Lian

online works


The shore of time 1

crazy gale has blown trees to the limit    weary stones
still keep rolling down

a bird that died last night leaves behind a scream
that shrill female cry    ruminates in the sunlight

a person commanded by the sea
canít help being naked again and again
so any bed is set by the shore
any fish employs your bellies to emit a rank stench
fish eyes    have gathered the white that is seen
that skyís ear-piercing white    makes you dream with October
reminds you in your dream that dreams are unreal
as clouds busily shift    substitute for your shifting
flood tide    casts a concrete floor for each day
the sound of paddling after death
this pine needleís green lifts you up and pitilessly dumps you

itís skin stripped from a zebraís face made into fields
itís a clockís flesh    seals crowd round and madly bark like shadows
eyes that see time see a window nailed shut
itís you    making the ocean old

the end    monotonous blue canít find a single word
language terminates in your language    island like a paralysed spine
October terminates in the instant that you fear the cold
nude bathing rubbing an enlarged post-mortem bruise
when the sea is endlessly crowding in on death itís more like a boundary
itís yourself revealed in your own end    itís the end
making a hundred years bright as a poisonous sparrow
because of nothing    only then engulfing you


The shore of time 2

what we thought we understood long ago    was long ago lost
no one can turn away from the ocean
watch yourself standing on the cliffs by the shore
visualise one drop of water flow impossibly into another
in what time is the transition between time and timeís burial
like shadow    stripped from a treetrunk lit by the sunlight
the tree that dreads time secretly enfolds profuse pubic hair
no one also has a shadow
children hatched on the sundial of the dead
all carried off

the blood running from your body understands only how to refuse you
turns into someone else    sucks you dry

as birds of stone roost on the branches and blacken
youíve gone green in whatís all around you    a gnomon on the sundial
silently shrouding the direction of ancient armada-discarded bones
all seas    re-enter the direction of one man lit up by cancer

weíre continually excised by all thatís dispersed
create this shore    with a crazy gale that checks the ringing ear
when the tongue is vestigial    itís imitating a jetty licking salt
rabbits wading from the waves are done to a turn
poets powerless to escape their feet    that are crimes already

looking back from the ocean you see the now is the sky
sky of emphysema    incessantly wheezing another sky
oblivion on parade here    being painlessly remembered
meteorites of dead fish beat into your stomach
a crazy gale    hands out hypnotic weather to each shore
even if youíre not afraid
October will put on an audience    and awake


© Yang Lian

Last updated 13 October, 2001