Poems by Yin Lichuan

Yin Lichuan. Photo copyright © 2004 by Martin de Haan.


when shit happens
it only seems to bother us for a day or two
in the morning we wash away our tears
and go tripping out the door
where the sun hangs upon our every word
the very grass lies prostrate at our feet

ten years later
we wind up recalling it with no small pleasure
for the fact is misery can be a remedy
and goes down well with wine
just the thing
to sweeten and enrich a life

when you lose a friend
it’s pretty much the same I guess
everybody nods so knowingly
then makes a quick departure
we’re all so tactful
we let the dead bury the dead




Mutual Recognition

I dreamt you came to see me
you let your hair grow out
and were wearing an orange checkered shirt
and levis cut off at the knees
a perfectly awful outfit that just wasn’t you
nor was the face you wore your own
or the body
you sat quietly for awhile
then got up and left
neither of us said a word
you never once looked back




Smoke, Caution

Haven’t said a word in three days. Haven’t had a smoke.
Saw six movies.
Cape No. 7
wasn’t so good.
All About Women
wasn’t so bad. But these Hong Kong directors rather love telling stories
              from a Beijing Rocks perspective. If the song Kuai Lun-mei sang had been
              punk …
Punk’d be better off dead.
I even finished watching Ip Man. Very proper and correct. Very soap-operish.
Saw Brokeback Mountain and Lust, Caution for the second time.
A little sentimental conversation can be good now and then.
The sun is so beautiful today. But I gotta go to a godamn meeting.
“Temper, temper!” Y gently urges me.

— translated by Steve Bradbury



I Still Can’t Get My Head Around Why

time and again
my flesh goes out the door without me
to do whatever it damn-well pleases
like getting hot and heavy
in a bathroom stall with some joker
I wouldn’t as a rule give the time of day to
before I break down into a jagging fit
while the real me is left stranded in some absurdly public forum
going on and on about god-knows-what
in some trivial dispute with a horde of characters
who aren’t even there

at other times I find
my flesh possessed
by someone else’s
as if I had become another person
and I’m the perfect model of decorum
as courteous and deferential as a guest






there must be stallions
that long to return to antiquity
just as certain people grow nostalgic at the mention of silent films
just as certain fresh-cut flowers
wish they were air-dried
and destined for a vase
a vase like that one
white and round and perfectly at peace
though all it does is gather dust
dust so soft and gentle you are moved






are not my forte
no, the thing I have a gift for
is picturing for you a day in spring
of putting an edge on your seasonal regrets

but flowers?
I was never any good with flowers





[return to Pacific poetries feature]