Nicholas YB Wong
An Incredibly Brief Morning Directory to the City
outside subway stations | hunchbacked elders
gather | wanting not
the sense on jasper mountains
but sour newspapers we’ve read in trains
peach petals float | rubbish sells
news expires after transits
there are other skies and earths than those
in mortal postcards
how many times have their roses bloomed
none perhaps | poverty finds its way to populate
in this world of fair trade:
selling second-hand papers begets a few dollars
for a pack of yellowed cabbage
that they munch for meals like hamsters
where to have michelin dim sum | how to cross the harbor
when the harbor’s getting smaller
so mighty is the creator’s work
how to tell it’s morning when no one sleeps
at night | when there’s no window
where you sleep | in a coffin room as it’s called
a practical rehearsal of finality
hair fringed on forehead | face against
four dark walls | greet the termites and wood lice
greet this city that has sprung | the year
is sinking west | over an alien land they roam
their footsteps silent as all the world thinks only of beauty
Sources of italicized lines:
Li Po, “In the Mountains: A Reply to the Vulgar” translated by Arthur Cooper.
Li Po, “Remembering the East Ranges” translated by Arthur Cooper.
Li Po, “The Ballad of Ch’ang-kan” translated by Arthur Cooper.
Tu Fu, “The Waterfall on Lu Mountain” translated by Arthur Cooper.
Luo Binwang, “On Hearing Cicadas in Prison” translated by Liu Yiqing.
Wang Bo, “Farewell to Vice-Prefect Du” translated by Xu Yangzhong.
Wang Wei, “A Song of Xi Shi” translated by Wu Juntao.