Ren Hang – Poems

21 08 2017

A few years ago, I edited a couple issues of Far Enough East – a Shanghai based literary journal that a few friends and I started. We had high hopes but no time, and Shanghai has always been a city of transients.

I was really proud of this issue:

Ren Hang

But if you try to find it now, our URL takes you to a Japanese site that seems to be touting hair removal.

Oh well. Things are lost all the time.

What I remember about this issue was that I wanted to feature some poetry from the photographer – Ren Hang. I was going to translate his poems, and I can’t remember if I ever did. There’s no way to check now, because the site is gone. I remember, he very kindly let us use whatever photographs we wanted.

I heard that Ren Hang killed himself in February, mourned a bit, then went on with my life.

I wandered into a Ren Hang solo show in Shanghai a little while ago, and found his photographs beautiful, and forgot about it again.

Then, today, my good friend asked me if I wanted to go to that same show i wandered into.

I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in a confluence of events. I also believe that random events can have meaning if you decide to act upon them in response.

I’ve been reading about the afterlife in Judaism recently. The idea of a legacy resonates with me. The living may perpetuate what is immortal about the dead. I’d like to contribute in some small way to perpetuating Ren Hang’s legacy. From afar, he seemed honest, in some way.

He left his pictures behind. And his words. I’d like to bring them into English. To mark and witness him.

 

 

 

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Did you understand me when I traced “I love u” on your skin?

9 07 2017

I am resorting to such cowardly ways and means.

Setting my transparencies on the projector, overlaying them upon your blank white screen

But you are not a blank white screen.

Presumptuous of me to fall back into assuming

You have also your inadequacies

I know

I have felt so

Too small or too scarred or too mute

My lines meet your lines, and converge or diverge, blur and obscure

till neither of us is clearly seen

so I think you think I’m not sexy, think you think I’m not quite right, think you think you can’t be weak around me

so you think I think you’re not strong enough, think I think you can’t satisfy me, think I think you’re not quite right

I don’t know what quite right might be. Do you?

I don’t know what satisfaction is. Do you?

I don’t know what you are like, when you’re weak. I don’t dare ask you to show me, to trust me.

You make me lonely.

You make me throw back my head and laugh.

You make me cum hard.

You make me feel as if the stars are singing to me from a room down the hall.

You make me sad and happy.

You smell like the woods, and almonds, and milk

I am trying to be your blank white screen

I am trying to be your blank white screen

I am trying

I am trying so hard

I am trying

I think you are trying to tell me you love me

 

 





24 05 2017

it’s too much it’s too much it’s too much

the wonder

wet, forward moving, together, churning

kisses. oh kisses.

whisper, let me back in

slipping, urgent towards one thing

not caring not caring what my face looks like for once

love

love love love

flooding me, drowning me

his voice in the darkness like a man in a raft set out to sea

Hearing the crest, fallen against the bulkwark of my darker ship

glimpses in moonlight obscured

get inside me

please

get inside me please please

let me hold you inside me

keep you safe and small and protected

like a prayer and I am happy

I am finally happy

you are inside my body like water drizzling down my neck, behind my ears

all inside me like a crowd of cheers, and balloons – thousands – set free at once

like being killed and killed and thank you

thank you

I never knew what tenderness could do

how it could crack me like a blade of grass cracks the cobblestones

 





Food Poem 1 – Wontons (huntun)

27 04 2017

In the beginning
there was nothing –
this was huntun.

nothing grew lonely
turned in on itself
and from emptiness
blossomed

succulent
hothouse meat
encased
in delicate shells
that break open
to release
torrents.

the first
“ahh…”
of satisfaction
a homecoming





Unwanted

17 04 2017

Is a woman
Something that men even want anymore?
Or do they want girlfriends and assistants
models and mothers
wives and sisters
fantasies and servants
nurses, vessels, and whores?

Do they want me
foaming from the sea
the tang of batteries
between my legs
and my ancient instinct
listening like antelopes
on the Serengeti

Do they want me
dirty, damp, and base
mouth full of tongue
and taste and invectives
Acidic, unyielding and frank
Hair unwashed for days and days
because I like the smell
of wax and leaf litter

Do they want me
with my broken windows
and warehouses of gleaming eyes
watching from the dark
and smiling and snarling

And if they don’t want me,
could that absolve me?
Set me free
to run, to jump, to dive
and let the waves carry me
back to that place from whence
Venus first strode in from the tide?





Diary of Tarantula Lau – February 16th

17 04 2017

I cut through the university grounds today. Found a gap in the fences around the large field by the gate and walked on the grass to feel it under my feet. It was brittle, and pale yellow – the color high class women favor for the parlor or the bedroom walls.

I wanted to fill my eyes with only one thing. Ignoring my black boots and dark green stockings, I was able to do so. The pale yellow seeped into every corner of my vision. It reminded me of the day they gave me away.

We were the first ones to walk on the blanket of snow that had fallen the night before. She was sniffling, but I don’t think she was crying. He coughed, because he’d spent another night sleeping by the stove in the folding bamboo chair. Our kang was narrow. Three pairs of footprints made a black trail of footprints behind us, but the ground before us was pristine, monochrome, glinting and almost blue.

I left the field, and walked over the bridge. For some reason, every university in China has a river running through it, and at least three bridges.

There was an old woman in a small grassy clearing surrounded by trees. The glade and the veranda reminded me of old ink prints of imperial concubines – Consort Yang with attendants on a terrace. Except the old woman, though zaftig with the bulk of several outer garments, would never be mistaken for a great beauty of ancient China.

Head down, she paced slowly across the clearing, contemplating each footstep like it would be her last. I wondered how she came to be at the very center of the university, if this was part of her routine. Her daily bread.

Rise at seven, and pass through the neighborhoods flanking the school. Make her way down the stairs, across footpaths, past students, bicycles, and cars all missing her vortex. Step, slowly, for hours, to arrive at this glade, which she probably thinks of as her glade. To pace back and forth, looking at the pale winter grass, filling her eyes with just one thing.

I took the bus to Taoranting Park, and sleeping on the way, dreamt of them for the first time since coming here. They were stepping carefully through the snow, placing one foot in front of the other, like it would be their very last, and between them was a hollow.

A shadow. Just wide enough for a ghost.





Poignance

23 03 2017

It was just a pot plant

set beside the armchairs

in the Costa coffee shop

 

But the curvature of the leaves

the transition from yellow to dark green

the shadows laid against each other

crescendoed into such a significance

that for a between-time instant

I loved so much I felt myself rooting into earth

 

while I walked to the counter

for an apple juice