In Luzuo Town, industry has forced out paddyfields, frogs, birds
Those orphans, also stolen away
Pure blue.

Brook Li coughs up black blood
Paddyfield Zhou lost both parents
Whitecloud Zhao contracted lung cancer
Victory Chen, lightning-fast, builds circuit boards, Wide Wu is
anxious at the piledriver;
Oh, Beijing, Beijing, you’ll be the death of us.

On the ground, books burning. In pits, people buried alive.
Industry added to industry, will it birth too many ghosts? Will
one suddenly run out, attached to a body?
I’m starring to worry
Cherish the memory of flowers, birds, insect pests.

A spray of peonies, across Northern Song, across the North-West
Her, every inch a lady

And across the moon of Qin times, the sky of Ming times, and
at least 800 leagues
South of
Southern Song

Through Luozu T own
Through its streets, through its traffic jams, through its
camouflage clothes.
Through Temporary Residence Permit checks.
Through capture

In Du Fu’s poetry, I leaped over
The Tang Dynasty, hurrying through downpours, vanishing in
a downpour
One day
Her, at the Public Security Bureau
Thrice they brought this Luoyang Peony’s posture low
Weeping herself out of recognition.

A flower, where could she turn traitor to?

Xia Dynasty. Classic small carpenter, the wood he touched the
sweet sound of a guitar
Ming Dynasty. Yamen thieftaker, the Luozu Town he touched
Had ironmongery, and the sound of broken bones
Had strangers, and the sound of flowers forced open


From East Guangdong to West Guangdong, heatless as
potentate’s boy, he took other people’s women
took protection rnoney.
Yuan Dynasty, Tamburlaine.
A building site labourer, descendant of the Mongols
Tattoos, dreams of the Great Khan, broad from chest to wrists

But hold on, bonny lad.
Just you hide with me inside
The key of D on a bygone guitar, ghost
In the rebar
And cement

Yuan Dynasty. By
Ming Loyalists hunted down. Him, not a spy for the last dynasty
Him, my proletarian

Sui, oh, Sui Dynasty. Lady Red Whisk, like a pretty little siren
Flying to and fro.
One surname, three forenames, all by the Palace
Held fast

Mint-perfumed silk. Everywhere fallen flowers
Running three circuits in the storm.

Sui Dynasty. To the camphorwood refuge she went, weeping all
the way, ransomed
Brother Jin
He wrought iron, played Past Glories, did the Workers Literature
Press thing
Broke three ribs last year.
This year he hasn’t the strength to speak.
Tears running three circuits in the storrn.

Tears hide the Yellow River. The Yellow River hides roars and

Little moon at World’s End
Qing Dynasty.
Nurhaci’s little princess, Aisin-gioro’s little sister
Child labourer
Her, she saw the moon, it was a crescent. A knife.
First of the month, work.
Fifteenth, pregnancy.
Thirtieth, abortion.
Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.
The unripe womb scraped thinner and thinner by the waxing

Her, she saw the moon, and it was white, wafer-thin. Shiny.
Turning a corner.

Oh, white dwarf, spatio-temporal curvature, so many bent puppets,
Gathered on a winding road, overtime. Extra shifts. They
All want to run to Denmark
All think their father is Hans Christian Andersen, all think a
Is their mother.

One lump of cement on another isn’t that the Earth?
Seeds know.
A drain to a stream, isn’t that the Mighty River?
Fish know.

Made in China

I bumped into Shang and Song.
One is Special Needs
Has no fingers, pisses at he moon.
One is Han Chinese
Has half a lung left, facing our Excellent Homeland, cursing
dog-fucked Luozu T own.

Two bastards
Driven from the factory by a Black Cat and a White Cat, still
smelling of war’ s chaos
Industrial GDP on the rise, the farm
Barely easing from their bellies.

The whole of the Book of Odes is worrying about a Dirty Rat
Nibbling away the State Granary
Two bastards, worrying about The Big Cat
Eating away two dozen provinces.

Translated by Brian Holton