Books of His Poems     On His Works     Home
 [3]  [4]  [5]  [6]  [7]  [8]  [9]
 Selected Poems of
Chen Li
Translated by Chang Fen-ling

[9] From
Microcosmos II


Live broadcast—
Mom called to ask:
will you come home for dinner?
Chirping competition:
zero-year-old old cicadas teach zero-year-old
baby cicadas to sing Happy Birthday

      Death: a three-legged race relayed by all generations across all ages

Two bodies, with cliffs on four sides:
desolate love scenery of
a woman with a woman


The unbearable
 lightness of dreaming:

the weightless pressing of the round breasts

of the lover who is gone


Great fleeing: let me hide inside
you, like water melting in water, seen
by the world, found by no one


The ocean at Dawu, seen from the train window, was a cool blue
cake laid flat and neat. The moment the train moved, the ocean
became a transparent fridge semi-trailer for
food delivery


Pillowing on two books, lying on the floor
one hot night, pondering on words with legs bent and
knees swaying, I am the first haiku in this summer


Having breakfast out with my 70-year-old mom:
in the salad sauced with sunshine
are her 17-year-old smiles


Fire engines lined up motionless before him:
nobody noticed the blazing fire inside the man
seated in the teashop before the fire brigade


Behind the bra, her half-naked breasts
are like palpitating vowels bulging in the mouth.
They escape the lips because of your exclamation


A rolling dice in the empty bowl of the night
turns on a seventh side:
oh God, you do exist


Mango-cake moon:
generous enough to shed sparks of crumbs for
separated lovers to eat at once in different places


Seeing Mom in the teashop frequented by youths
I stared at her incredulously. My friend, sitting
opposite me, asked, "Which belle are you looking at?"


While listening, she fell asleep at the other end
of the line, leaving me alone
trapped in the tangled coils of her breaths


Serving and cleaning the table so nimbly
the waitress didn't know how hard it was to
wipe off your greasy gaze upon her glossy arms


Love is simply hanging on the tree
Love is simply hanging on the breasts
Come and get it, o lover boy


Bunun, Bunun…We are a bee box that makes
droning sounds, a beehive in which honey is made
with harmony, blocked yet bouncy vocalic choral.

Author’s Note: The Bunun are a tribe of Taiwanese aborigines.
They are best-known for their polyphonic vocal music.


Your voices suspend in my room
cutting through silence, to become

a bulb speaking with heat or chill




Love, or alas?
I say love, you say alas; I say
alas, alas, alas, you say love’s lost, alas!


Pulling over to the roadside, I lay down to see the blue sky
beyond the nose. A small bug stopped on my nose tip as if
on a peak: my body was a mountain range of my hometown


Ah man, come and

take a selfie:


Let Basho write his haiku, walk on his
Narrow Road to the Deep Interior: my Basho
chooses to write your deep narrow interior 

Author’s Note: Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), the Japanese haiku master,
wrote Narrow Road to the Interior (Oku no Hosomichi) in the form of a travel diary.


There's a wound in the little finger. I can't pick my nose
The stars tonight are just like dots of nose excrement
stuck in the dark nostril, refusing to fall


The morning violent earthquake shook away Mom's
pearl earrings on the dresser. The afternoon violent
earthquake shook Mom's lost pearl earrings back


An earthquake tumbled down the huge wall of the prison.
Prison breakers, still at large, major or minor, included
two hounds, seventy mice, and eighty-six cockroaches


Who comes first: the universe? the emperor? God?
death? G cup? eating?—
I will go move the bowels first


Passing by the human world, gods danced and reveled by fits
Too high, their high-heeled shoes disabled them
from seeing the bitter sights of the earthquake under their feet


Because of gods' absence, humans invent myths.
Because death is larger than life, we have stories of

ghosts. Please say something human—"Fuck!" 


Years later I reknocked at your heart, saying Open Sesame. All the

food has been deleted from your word bank. I replace in vain

the key words: black sand, baby, sorry, love me...


A newly-passed family violence law for nightingales:
Never say "I no longer hunger for you"
with too strong a voice


I emailed to Great-grandma, who never kept a digital mouse,
talking about love and death: she sent back (and asked me to
forward it) the most ancient email written with lightning


Mom said we'd dine out on New Year's Day, with
my home-coming brother. We dined out and looked
outside the window: the shiny lawn, the floating clouds


Twisted metaphors,
ethics: benevolent
love of poetry


Offer Death a one-night stay in your pocket
to experience your curiosity and timidity about him:
he can try the food and the bed, but it's not formally open yet


I'll minimize my poetic form, making it
smaller than a disc, bigger than the world
a replicable and rewritable microcosm 


《小宇宙 II 》中文原詩
Microcosmos II  (in Chinese)

Books of Poems by Chen Li

In Front of the Temple   Animal Lullaby     Rainstorm
Traveling in the Family     Microcosmos     The Edge of the Island
The Cat at the Mirror     New Poems     Microcosmos II 

  Introduction to Chen Li's Poetry

  by  Chang Fen-ling