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Poetry, Translation

Scott L. Satterfield – translation of a poem by Wang Anshi

松间

 

偶向松间觅旧题

野人休诵北山移

丈夫出处非无意

猿鹤从来自不知

 

  • 王安石

 

Among the Pines (On Being Recalled to Office)

 

Among the pines chancing upon old inscriptions,

Ignoramuses stop crowing my remove to northern mountains.

The man now comes forth not without purpose –

such as apes, cranes, never could understand.

 

  • Wang Anshi  (1021-1086)
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August 18, 2017
Poetry, Translation, Uncategorized

Chua Chee Lay – 同一片天 (translated by Shelly Bryant)

With deep interests across literature, visual arts, culture, education and digital technology, Chua Chee Lay’s literary writings reflect his diverse influences and span across modern poetry, prose, song lyrics and short stories. Chua holds a PhD in East Asian Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin. A linguist, educator, award-winning poet and children’s book writer, he is also the Chief Editor for several books and series, including Keeping My Mandarin Alive: Lee Kuan Yew’s Language Learning Experiences (Chinese, English and China Edition) and Journey of Our Young, a Young Writers Project by the Ministry of Education.

 

同一片天

——为2013年国家图书馆全国阅读运动“读吧!新加坡”而作
蔡志礼
混沌天地
缓缓地张开
沉睡千年的眼
浩浩沧海
渐渐凝成万顷桑田
似曾相识的飞燕
来自天上来自人间
来自同一片天
青涩少年
改朝换代后
早已风霜满面
抬望眼啊
皆是不轻弹的英雄泪
洗也洗不尽的怨
所有悲悯所有爱怜
来自同一片天
不同肤色
不同的语言
不一样的祖先
命运嬗变
上天要我们紧紧相连
赤足走在赤道边
一样阳光一样雨露
来自同一片天
不能再叫
梦沉淀搁浅
不能再叫
悲情继续蔓延
撒下心愿
全情灌溉用爱耕心田
仰望渺渺云河边
明月微笑星光点点
来自同一片天
摊开浩荡的历史长卷
翻阅盘古开天的容颜
任豪情无限壮志伸延
让心与心手和手相嵌
我们拥有同样一片天
祸福与共
直到永永远远

The Same Stretch of Sky

written for the 2013 National Library Board “Read! Singapore” campaign
a world of chaos
slowly opening
eyes that have slept for a millennium
vast sea
gradually condensing millions of miles of mulberry fields
deja vu
coming from earth to heaven
from the same stretch of sky
sentimental youth
after the regime change
faces already covered with frost
lift your eyes
aren’t these the flickering tears of a hero
and the resentment that can never be purged
all the compassion
all the sympathy
all the affection
from this same stretch of sky
different skin color
different language
different ancestors
Fate’s evolution
– heaven wants us tightly intertwined
barefoot on the equator
the same sun
the same rain
from this same stretch of sky
never again to allow
dreams to founder, stranded
never again to allow
sorrow to continue to spread
scattering the dream
love fills the irrigation channels
cultivating the heart
watching the river of clouds above
the moon smiles in the stars’ twinkling
coming from the same stretch of sky
spread the scrolls of the chronicles
read of Pangu opening up the heavens
with all our lofty ideals
let heart and heart
hand and hand be joined
we all have this same stretch of the sky
our shared good fortune
now and forever
(Reprinted with thanks to The Arts House, Singapore)
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Poetry, Translation

Chow Teck Seng – 出入停车场 (translated into English by Yong Shu Hoong)

Singapore-born Chow Teck Seng writes poetry primarily in Chinese. Frequently contributing to literary journals, anthologies and the Chinese press in Singapore and abroad, he has won awards such as the Singapore Literature Prize (2014) and Golden Point Award (2009). His poems in English translation are found in & Words: Poems Singapore and Beyond (2010), Union: 15 Years of Drunken Boat, 50 Years of Writing from Singapore (2015), SG Poems 2015–2016 and the online journal, Poetry at Sangum. They have also been adapted as short films by students of Lasalle College of the Arts in 2017. A former lecturer (in Chinese-language literature) at the National University of Singapore and National Institute of Education, he is currently pursuing a PhD at Cambridge University.

 

出入停车场*

  

车子持续倒退

到位、无回、不悔

不能够有发光的青春碎片

火箭降落了

回忆开走了

柏拉图像飞走的伞

停车场常伪装为一枚句号

习惯系上了安全带

预备在车程中观赏一段周而复始的连续剧

雨刷的动作让我以为这是一出怀旧电影

预感是影印出来的大海

眼神是指南针

望后镜中的目光终于接近最熟悉最普通的温柔

不是错位,不能忘记回过身

 

原来停车场亦不是逗号

明天和旅程不会重复

街灯和拉上的手控刹车器轻声告诉你

停车是一道暧昧不清、赤裸的分号

停顿的微光和下车的脚步声

连身裙似的把错落情节依次缝起

 

下雨的停车场像停尸间

送走的尸体刚走掉的幸福

 

 

Entering/Exiting a Carpark

By Chow Teck Seng

 

The car keeps backing

into position, no return, no regret –

no longer possessing the shiny shards of youth.

The rocket has landed.

The memory has wandered off.

Plato, like a flyaway brolly.

The carpark frequently disguises itself as a full stop.

Habitually buckling up the seatbelt

preparing to enjoy a repetitive miniseries during the journey –

the wiping effect makes me think of this as a nostalgic film.

Premonition is a xeroxed sea.

Between the eyes, the needle of a compass.

Within that rear-view glance, finally a most familiar and mundane tenderness.

Not a dislocation, but unable to forget ever turning back.

 

So the carpark is also not a comma.

The next day, as well as the journey, will not repeat.

Streetlamps and the pulled handbrake softly inform you

that a car, stopping, is an unclear and naked semicolon.

The taillights and the sound of alighting footsteps

stitch up the misaligned scenes like garment seams.

 

The carpark, in the rain, is like the fleeing

happiness of a corpse that has just left the mortuary.

 

(Translation by Yong Shu Hoong)

 

* previously published, without the English translation, in Chow Teck Seng’s Poetry of You and Me (Lingzi Media, 2012)
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Poetry, Translation

Yong Shu Hoong – The Path of Least Resistance (translated into Chinese by Chow Teck Seng)

Yong Shu Hoong has authored one poetry chapbook, Right of the Soil (2016), as well as five poetry collections, including Frottage (2005) and The Viewing Party (2013), which won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2006 and 2014 respectively. His poems and short stories have been published in literary journals like Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong), and anthologies like Language for a New Century (W.W. Norton, 2008). He is the editor of anthologies like Passages: Stories of Unspoken Journeys (2013), as well as Here Now There After (2017), which was part of The Commuting Reader series commissioned for the #BuySingLit movement. He is one of the four co-authors of The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (2015) and Lost Bodies: Poems Between Portugal and Home (2016).

 

The Path of Least Resistance

 

Sit back, relax… unclench the fists.

It’s peace of mind we’re paying for –

and we’re paying a lot – when we

entrust the task of navigating these

unacquainted roads to an assigned

driver-for-hire. But this hardly

justifies our trust in the system; or

is it a collective resignation to fate?

Fate, as in the game of chance,

or divine will that we assume will

always be to our advantage. Breathe

in and out, as our van weaves in and

out of traffic flow. We’d like to think

the driver knows what he’s doing,

though he doth tootle on the horn

too much, especially when he’s trying

to warn any car that gets in his way

and needs to be overtaken. It seems

one false move by one of the many

stakeholders could spell disaster, yet

everything hangs in balance. Faith,

I tell my agitated heart, faith! Let

nature – the human kind included

– take its course, as man and car meld

into a single deity, all-seeing, that

rips us through the slaughter of sun

and sheets of rain, passing road-

hogging tuk-tuks along mist-shrouded

winding roads… before providing

in these verdant hills and plantations

an elixir for the violence of our pursuit.

 

 

 

通往无碍之路

 

坐下,放轻松…握紧的拳头松开

为了安心 就用钱来买方便
却买出个代价  这是我们
到陌生地  把驾驶工作 交托

某一随机安排租车司机   的结果 这还

真辜负了大家对体制的信任 或说
这只是种集体宿命行为?
命运  一种或然率的游戏

抑或 一种我们总误会  会天从人意
的天意    来 来  深吸一口气

再呼气   小包车在车流中骄纵

蛇行   我们本该信任

身为司机  当知其所当为  即使

他的连环追命喇叭  按得着实

过多  而且是为肃清自己前行车道  防止

任何挡路、意欲超车者介入  仿佛

警告其他公路使用者  千钧一发

错误  将导致他们的灾难       信任
我告诉自己亢奋的小心脏  要信任
任一切  顺其自然   自是那种

人为的自然——人、车将

天人合一    成仙成佛  仿佛  人在做

天在看  我们如何穿透雨  穿过夺命的阳光

穿过所有在蜿蜒路上挡道的嘟嘟车

九死一生后   再为我们的横行霸道

用葱葱郁郁之山峦与稻田
豁然指引出   一条救赎之道

 

(Translation by Chow Teck Seng)

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Poetry, Translation

Chow Teck Seng – “穿上 脱下 ——穿衣的哲学” (translated into English by Yong Shu Hoong)

Singapore-born Chow Teck Seng writes poetry primarily in Chinese. Frequently contributing to literary journals, anthologies and the Chinese press in Singapore and abroad, he has won awards such as the Singapore Literature Prize (2014) and Golden Point Award (2009). His poems in English translation are found in & Words: Poems Singapore and Beyond (2010), Union: 15 Years of Drunken Boat, 50 Years of Writing from Singapore (2015), SG Poems 2015–2016 and the online journal, Poetry at Sangum. They have also been adapted as short films by students of Lasalle College of the Arts in 2017. A former lecturer (in Chinese-language literature) at the National University of Singapore and National Institute of Education, he is currently pursuing a PhD at Cambridge University.

 

穿上 脱下

    ——穿衣的哲学*

 

你脱下,我们穿上

穿上纯真,脱下端庄

美丽的幼儿园我们穿上校服

裹在一个哪吒还未被遗忘的年代

步向水漫小学学堂快乐的倾盆中

脱下原本刷了白油的帆布鞋

脱下,洁白的颜色如水脱下

脱,连濡湿的袜子都脱下

然后穿上明年,穿上成长

 

穿上睡衣、白衣蓝裙、衬衫、长裤皮鞋

穿上内衣、家居服、百慕达、拖鞋

扣纽扣、绑上腰带、拉平皱痕

拉上拉链、整理领口

女人画唇画眉、上妆

涂上香水、装上耳环

僧人穿上僧服、世人结上领带

树穿上像化妆品面膜的日光

穿上如网的年轮

脱下叶子、美貌

男人穿上军服,戴上爱国主义

脱下春夏秋冬

削了皮的苹果,《小王子》中摇尾的狐狸

蛇褪下过时的蛇皮,壁虎脱掉时间的尾巴

天使是穿上衣服还是赤身裸体?

魔鬼是戴上面具抑或是裸露狰狞?

 

在陌生的婚宴、政治正确的场合

我们最终穿上笔挺的西装

外套、面具,一副金框的眼镜

手中紧握着酒杯

酒杯,它戴着一副世故的光亮

 

 

Put On/Slip Off

– The philosophy of dressing

 

By Chow Teck Seng

 

 

You slip off, we put on

Put on innocence, slip off decorum.

For our beautiful kindergarten we put on uniforms

Tucked in an era where Nezha hadn’t yet been forgotten

Walking towards the school’s rain-soaked compound

Slipping off canvas shoes coated with whitener

Slipping off, the whiteness slips off like water

Slipping, even the wet socks slip off,

And then putting on the upcoming year, putting on growth.

 

Putting on pyjamas white shirt blue skirt dress shirt trousers leather shoes

Putting on underwear house clothes Bermuda shorts slippers

Button up, belt up, smoothen the creases

Zip up, tidy up the collar.

The women paint their lips, ink their brows, put on makeup

Dab on perfume, fix on earrings.

The monks put on robes, the heathens knot their neckties.

The trees put on sunshine as a cosmetic mask

Put on the years like a net

Slip off leaves and beauty.

The men put on army uniforms and wear patriotism on their sleeves

Slip off the four seasons.

The apples are skinless, the fox is wagging its tail in The Little Prince,

The snakes unroll outdated skins, the lizards shake off their timely tails.

Are angels fully-clothed or naked?

Is the devil masked or baring his fangs?

 

In wedding banquets of strangers, and politically-correct occasions,

We would still be putting on sharp suits

Jackets, masks, gold-rimmed glasses

Wine glasses tight in our clasp –

Glasses that wear a certain sophisticated sheen.

 

(Translation by Yong Shu Hoong)

 

* previously published, without the English translation, in Chow Teck Seng’s Poetry of You and Me (Lingzi Media, 2012)

 

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Poetry, Translation

Yong Shu Hoong – Skin-deep (translated into Chinese by Chow Teck Seng)

Yong Shu Hoong has authored one poetry chapbook, Right of the Soil (2016), as well as five poetry collections, including Frottage (2005) and The Viewing Party (2013), which won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2006 and 2014 respectively. His poems and short stories have been published in literary journals like Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong), and anthologies like Language for a New Century (W.W. Norton, 2008). He is the editor of anthologies like Passages: Stories of Unspoken Journeys (2013), as well as Here Now There After (2017), which was part of The Commuting Reader series commissioned for the #BuySingLit movement. He is one of the four co-authors of The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (2015) and Lost Bodies: Poems Between Portugal and Home (2016).

 

Skin-deep

 

When a batch of my books arrives

from my publisher’s warehouse, I notice

 

Added annotations: yellowed specks

and blotches; I worry about customer

complaints over such imperfections.

 

A more understanding reader accepts

these pages as living tissues capable

of aging gracefully with the weather.

 

Nothing remains in mint condition

 

For too long. When I part my shirt,

I try to decrypt the coded message

of moles new and ancient; scars

of different vintages; spots, like the

smattering on the sun’s photosphere…

 

Then learning how Roman soldiers

used to chisel faces off statues, I

consider what memories I wish to

blanch from history, which words

to erase from skin. And enquire:

Should I advocate a return to that

shrink-wrapped state of newness?

 

Or otherwise remain, like grand

trees that lent me their name,

peaceable within reams of barks:

 

What’s mottled, and overlaid with lichens,

is a new body for my remaining journey.

 

深入皮相

 

当自己一批诗集从

出版社货仓 抵达家中 赫然发觉

 

竟新添注脚:大小黄斑

点点。我有点忧心,会否

有人客诉,是瑕疵品

 

善解人意的读者一定理解:

书页也如生死的皮肤组织

是阴晴干湿、岁月的优雅见证

一切皆不能恒久弥新

 

太久。像舍一件上衣时

我尽可能为一切新旧斑、痣

属不同复古潮流的痕  太阳敷于上

的一层浅薄光晕等  密码般解密

 

在知悉罗马士兵如何

自雕像上锥除一张张的脸后

我更思索自己会从历史中漂白

哪份记忆  把哪些文辞

从皮肤上删改剔除?并追问:

我是否还该鼓吹   回归

裹上透明包装纸  的那种新

 

又或,留。留如树会借我名字

留若树死留皮  成纸成册    留则

成就树之宏伟不朽  与强悍巍峨——

 

而那长苔、 长廯的将是我

留存人间最后旅程    的新肉身

 

(Translation by Chow Teck Seng)

 

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Poetry, Translation

Scott L. Satterfield – translation of “A Mean Abode” by Liu Yuxi

陋室铭

山不在高,有仙则名。水不在深,有龙则靈。斯是陋室,惟吾德馨。苔痕上階绿,草色入帘青。谈笑有鸿儒,往来无白丁。可以调素琴,阅金经。无丝竹之乱耳,无案牍之劳形。南阳诸葛庐,西蜀子云亭。孔子云,【何陋之有?】

 

刘禹锡

 

A Mean Abode

It is not how high the mountain, if there be spirits within fame follows. It is not how deep the water, if there be dragons within wonder follows. In this mean abode, only my self graces it. Traces of moss cover the steps green, grass shows green through the hung screen. The learned are here for talks and laughter, no unlettered folk come and go. I can play simple melodies, read the scriptures. No strings or flutes troubling the ear, no papers tiring body and soul. Here is as famous men of integrity passed simple lives in mean places far apart.*

So did Confucius ask, “ In what manner is this mean?”

 

  • Liu Yuxi (772–842)
*As Nanyang’s (Henan) Zhu Gelu and as distant Shu (Sichuan) in the West, Yangze’s pavilion.
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Poetry, Translation

Three poems by Ikuko Tanaka – translated by Miho Kinnas & Shelly Bryant

1.

雪の時間

 

深雪に埋めつくされた苅田は見知らぬ国の原

降り積んだ雪に記憶の風が

吹き寄せ吹きだまりができる

斜面ができる

さらに雪が降りさらに風が吹き

やがて像の耳がかたどられていった

いま おさない象が群れからはぐれたのだ

はぐれた象のために

吹雪はひそかに胴体の輪郭を描いていった

さらに雪は降りさらに風は吹き

胴体のつづきに長い鼻の輪郭を描いていった

ああ やっと

低い声で助けの信号を送りはじめたのだ

しかし 風は吹き荒れ雪を舞い上げ

やっと伸ばした鼻を消し去り

胴体を消し去り

耳のかたちひとつだけを残した

谷間の川面から吹き上げる風が

ほうほうと身をよじり

象とたわむれているのだ

だが 聞く耳ひとつあればいい

わたしは ふと自分の耳に触ってみる

わたしの一番深いところでねむっている無数の耳

忘れている耳

はぐれたわたしの耳のために

吹雪はやがてわたしの耳をかたどり始める

そのように雪は降りつづき

そのように風は吹きつづけ

 

Snow Time

 

The bare paddy field buried in deep snow is an unknown field

The wind of memory blows over the piled snow

The snow drifts

The snow slides

Some more snow falls, some more wind blows

And the drift is shaped into an elephant ear

Now a young elephant has strayed from the herd

For the stray elephant

the snowstorm slowly begins to draw his body

Some more snow falls, some more wind blows

Following the body the snowstorm outlines the trunk

Ahh- finally

a distress signal is sent out in a low voice

But the wind roughens and blows up the snow

the painstakingly stretched trunk is erased

the body is erased

only one ear is left

The wind blows, ho ho, from the river surface

in the valley twisting

and playing with the elephant

You know, though, one ear to listen is enough

I now touch my own ears

A countless number of ears are asleep

in the deepest place

The forgotten ears

For my stray ears

the snow storm begins to mold my ear

Thus some more snow falls

Thus some more wind blows

~

 2.

カヤパの庭

 

今夜、鶏が鳴く前にあなたは三度わたしを知らないと言うだろう マタイ二十六章

 

ゆうぐれの窓から

ぼんやりと椿の花を見続けると

心の底までのぞき込まれていると思う日がやってくる

赤い花の芯にとらえられ つつぬけにのぞき込まれてしまう

誘われるままに樹の下をくぐり敷石を横にたどり裏口から

あの人が裁かれているというカヤパの中庭に入る

大祭司カヤパの庭にも椿の花がいっぱい咲いていて

わたしが葉と葉の間から見ていると

「何をいっているのかわからない」と一番弟子の男が否んだ

二千年前の炭火が赤く燃え 裏切るもの死刑を望むもの

しもべや女中が集まっていた

またしても「そんな人は知らない」恐れて誓う声がした

遠く波打つガリラヤの湖から一匹の魚が泳ぎ去った

わたしが赤い花をのぞくと 男の涙がこぼれそうだった

こんなところに誰がつまずく石を置いたのだろう

三度目の声がまたしても

「その人のことは何も知らない」と言うと

追い打ちをかけるように女中が

[この人はナザレ人イエスと一緒だった]と言った

それはわたしの声だった わたしはそこにもいたのだ

静かなゆうぐれに包まれると椿の花がまっ赤に咲いて

ぼんやりしていると 鶏が鳴いて男は外に出て激しく泣く

いつのまにか二千年はあっけなく過ぎて

そのまま赤い花の形をして地面に落ちるものがある

罪も弱さもそのまま受け継いで

わたしはカヤパの庭を行ったり来たりしている

 

Caiaphas’ Courtyard

 

Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice Matthews 26

 

Out of the window of twilight

I gaze blankly at the camellia blossoms

There comes a day the camellia sees

through to the bottom of my heart

Caught by the core of the red blossom

through and through I am seen

Being led I stoop under the branches

and step into Caiaphas’ courtyard from the back gate

where he is said to be judged

The high priest Caiaphas’ courtyard is also

filled with camellia blossoms

I watch from the space between the leaves

He denied, saying, I know not what thou sayest

Two thousand year old charcoal burns deep

who betrays and wants death

a crowd of servants and maids gathered

And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man

A fish swims away from the far away heaving lake of Galilee

I look inside the burning

and see his tear about to overflow

Who left a stumbling stone, here?

For the third time I hear the voice, saying, I know not the man

Another maid said unto them that were there,

This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth

That was my voice;

I was there, too

Camellias, wrapped by the dusk, open their crimson petals

I am lost in thought; the cock crow, and the man goes outside,

cries out

Unnoticed, two thousand years have passed

Unchanged, something in the shape of a red flower

falls onto the ground passing on

Sins and weaknesses

I go to and from Caiaphas’ courtyard

 

~

3.

オブジェ

 

かつて 父たちが植林し造林につとめた杉山に分け入っ

たことがある 天に垂直なその杉の木に絡みついたカズ

ラを切るのだ きつく巻きついた紐状のものを力ずくで

引っ張る 細い毛根がびりびりと剥がれる 引きながら

解きながら木の周りをぐるぐる回る 解くと締めつけら

れた跡がケロイドのようだ

わたしは 解いたカズラを束ねて 一つの輪に編んで行

く 最初の輪につぎつぎ絡ませ 縄目を作り隙間を埋め

ながら 偶然にゆだねてオブジェを作る 壁掛けを作っ

ていく 隙間には野の花と杉の実とカモガヤの野を飾る

と 朝と夕を加え小鳥も加えることになって ドライフ

ラワーの壁掛けとなる やがて乾いてくるとピソンの川

もユフラテの川も流れはじめる 浅瀬の葦の間にきのう

誘われた聡い蛇のことばを置く これがわたしの園であ

る それを玄関に飾る 誰にも気づかれない わたしだ

けのオブジェの中で わたしは いまだエバのままであ

り 出る時も入る時も 魂のありかをとわれつづけてい

るように思う

 

 

(Miho Kinnas’s translation of an essay by Akira Kisa, Where Bibliobattles Are was published in Asian Literary Journal Cha in June, 2017.  More poems by Ikuko Tanaka in translation can be found at Poetry Kanto.)

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Poetry, Translation

Chow Teck Seng – two poems (translated by Yong Shu Hoong)

Singapore-born Chow Teck Seng writes poetry primarily in Chinese. Frequently contributing to literary journals, anthologies and the Chinese press in Singapore and abroad, he has won awards such as the Singapore Literature Prize (2014) and Golden Point Award (2009). His poems in English translation are found in & Words: Poems Singapore and Beyond (2010), Union: 15 Years of Drunken Boat, 50 Years of Writing from Singapore (2015), SG Poems 2015–2016 and the online journal, Poetry at Sangum. They have also been adapted as short films by students of Lasalle College of the Arts in 2017. A former lecturer (in Chinese-language literature) at the National University of Singapore and National Institute of Education, he is currently pursuing a PhD at Cambridge University.

The following poems were previously published, without the English translation, in Chow Teck Seng’s Poetry of You and Me (Lingzi Media, 2012). 

 

轮回

 

时间是一条狗

一张   大口

即咬去   月的肚腩

于是每个晚

都注定是个新的缺口

 

还好,就十五天

月又养得白白胖胖

 

我们好象月

全身有被狗咬的伤口

 

  

Recycle

 

Time is a mongrel,

its wide-open mouth

gnawing at the belly of the moon.

So every night is

predestined for a new gaping hole.

 

But all’s well, just 15 days

the moon is fair and fattened again.

 

We are like the moon,

wounded by dog-bites all over.

 

(Translation by Yong Shu Hoong)

 

~

 

饮食山水

 

三碗两碗

左手  一下撑起

雪山雪山

饭粒竟成雪屑飘飞

遇嘴而化

右手  则两下闪电

抓起满口饭

半个冰山劈开

 

偶然一匙汤水

自花瓷大碗

江海江海

油光涟滟,肉岩顿成天堑

泄流山腰逶迤而入

谁以春夏秋冬四法烹煮

则三两碟小菜   挥洒间

像蝶飞花丛

豆骸残肢斜斜飞出

花红叶绿一下被席卷而去

 

你意犹未尽

晴空打了个闷雷

手搓搓鼻梁

谈笑间   汤水成骤雨

山山水水

花花草草

一切尽在虚无飘渺间

 

 


Eat Drink Mountain River

 

Three or two bowls

are hoisted by left hand in one move.

Snowy mountain, snowy mountain –

the rice grains waft like snow flakes

dissolving in mouth.

Right hand, in two claps of lightning,

claws up a mouthful of rice,

splitting apart the mountain of ice.

 

The occasional spoonful of soup

is extracted from a large porcelain bowl.

The river, the river

ripples with an oily sheen; meat boulders as moats

the water wades past mountain-slopes to gush in.

Who would use the four seasonal styles of gastronomy

on two or three appetisers? Wavering

like butterflies among flowers,

broken husks scatter, only to be

whisked away with red petals and leaves.

 

Your cravings not yet fulfilled,

thunder reverberates from the blue.

A hand rubs the bridge of a nose.

As casual conversation ensues, soup becomes sudden storm:

Mountain, river,

flower, grass…

Everything fades into nothingness.

 

(Translation by Yong Shu Hoong)

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Poetry, Translation

Yong Shu Hoong – two poems (translated by Chow Teck Seng)

Yong Shu Hoong has authored one poetry chapbook, Right of the Soil (2016), as well as five poetry collections, including Frottage (2005) and The Viewing Party (2013), which won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2006 and 2014 respectively. His poems and short stories have been published in literary journals like Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong), and anthologies like Language for a New Century (W.W. Norton, 2008). He is the editor of anthologies like Passages: Stories of Unspoken Journeys (2013), as well as Here Now There After (2017), which was part of The Commuting Reader series commissioned for the #BuySingLit movement. He is one of the four co-authors of The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (2015) and Lost Bodies: Poems Between Portugal and Home (2016).

 

Negation

I’m not a vegetarian
but I go meatless
on occasions for
the best intentions.
Eating too fast is
another sin. When I
bite my lip and blood
corrupts my vegetables
I’m no longer even
a vegetarian for a day.

 

 

我非素食主义者
但因缘际会,总有些时候
为一些美好的诉求

戒肉
自然,吃太快
也是罪。当我
咬到唇 血
染口边蔬菜时
那日 我已断非
一清白的素食者

 

(Translation by Chow Teck Seng)

 

~

 

Meat Joy, 2014*

 

 To put it blandly, it is

just lunch.

 

But armed with a pinch

of salt, I can certainly try

to unlock all the flavours

and serve a fresh perspective.

 

Take for example, a wedge

of New York City, stuck

in a mall in Hillview where a few

HDB blocks used to stand,

before the entire estate

was roundly erased. After dust

settles, the new sign proclaims:

Dean & DeLuca. A chain of

upscale grocery stores, first

started in SoHo in 1977.

 

This is 2014, 11.30am.

 

I’m having my $18 burger.

The beef is so thick that

well-doneness doesn’t seep into

the patty’s core. I survey

the large plate, and consider how

best to devour the grub.

 

My mouth isn’t wide enough.

 

So I pick up the knife

to draw blood by carving

through the meat, reflecting:

 

How well this red sap

must look, when splattered 

across the floor space

of gleaming white marble!

 

I feel like having a brawl

 

 

With the taste of violence

upon the wingtip of my tongue.

But there’s no worthy opponent

here – only nerdy schoolgirls

fretting over homework, and

straight-laced office workers

celebrating Happy Birthday

with a silly cupcake bearing

a desolate candle.

 

I want to get up

and blow out that flame

wavering for way too long

under someone else’s nose,

but I’m too filled to move.

 

I do not dare to request

for more hot water to douse

my half-spent teabag.

 

Lunchtime is officially over

 

If not for the haze, lapping

menacingly against full-length window.

 

* This poem appeared on the website Kitaab and in Yong Shu Hoong’s chapbook, Right of the Soil (Nanyang Technological University & Ethos Books, 2016), but without the Chinese translation.

 

无肉不欢,2014

 

说白点, 这
不过就是午餐

别太较真  就如一把
盐巴, 我会尝试
从新鲜的视角  去品
出最丰富的味道

举例来说,纽约市的斧头
餐馆,已深入
本地山景区的商场腹地
当然原本挺拔的几座组屋
已连根拔起 整个住宅区
也完满删除。尘埃落定处
竖起招牌宣称:
Dean & DeLuca
高大上的食品连锁广场
品牌1977创建于SOHO

现在是2014年,上午11点30分

我正啃食18元的汉堡
过厚的牛肉,肉饼内部
未能熟透。我眼观巨盘
的四周,思考 如何让口
绕道避开令人为难的血腥

唯我嘴断非血盆大口

于是动刀
雕刻肉身
划出血痕
引血反思:

当血水溅洒
雪白晶莹的
大理石地板
上,红将会
何等娇艳?

我但觉经历一场厮杀

舌尖遂尝
暴力的滋味
一一竟是所向披靡
此处,仅有乖乖牌学生妹数名
纠缠在功课里
一些一本正经的
公司职员在庆生:
为可怜兮兮的杯型小蛋糕
插上孤单的小烛影

我想站起
把窝在人鼻息下
摇摆不定 太久
的火焰 一口气给灭了
唯自己 实腹饱难动

我也不敢
要多点沸水
让未泡尽的茶袋 再来个水浸灭顶

午休已尽。该落下庄严的帷幕?

唯全景玻璃窗外
尚有雾霾,正肆虐着 掩埋天地如幕

 

(Translation by Chow Teck Seng)

 

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