June 2010

Three Sections From Misfortune

by Xi Chuan

translated from the Chinese by Wang Ping and Alex Lemon

B   00007

The shrewd woman chokes under the telephone pole,
Fiery ears underground catch her words.
A man shaving in the cave cuts himself.
The vanished trudge below.
Under the searchlight my spirit finds secrets—orange bodies of the missing.
He climbs the wall, peeks at the flowers and falls when they scream.
Has he returned to his childhood, is this death or eternity?
Wandering, wind and rain in the distance, he bumps into a friend who owes him
A panicked smile on his face.
Hungry, they embrace, refusing to talk business.
Past the opera house, past the laundry, they sneak into a banquet like plainclothes,
Searching for a basement bathroom.
Three cops arrest them, eighteen women accuse them of obscenities.
The debtor reaches for a fake pass but pulls out a jar of Tiger Balm.
“Please accept this humble gift,” he says. But they blindfold him, take him to jail
He screams I’m so and so.
When he tears off the blindfold, he’s standing on the sunshine road of his

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

Wang Ping’s many books of poetry and prose include American Visa, New Generation: Poems from China Today, and The Last Communist Virgin. She is an associate professor of English at Macalester College.

Alex Lemon is the author of Happy:A Memoir and the poetry collections Mosquito, Hallelujah Blackout, and Fancy Beasts. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and teaches at Texas Christian University.

News on Facebook Photos on Instagram Stuff on Pinterest Announcements by RSS Sounds on Soundcloud Exclusives on Tumblr Updates on Twitter

Subscribe to our mailing list