Postcard: Chinatown, c. 1958. Creative Commons, this work is marked as being in the public domain.


Translating Translating Yu Jian*

A Styrofoam Cooler by the Side of the Road
[Style-you   fool-skin-clay   Xie-Shaobo   you-young]

Wild beside the pale UK      making trump a circus
large creep down Tao lines.      clear distinct from the river and sky
“circulating” and “in the city”      all background
red-painted glitters      apparently the poet’s hand
A   C   J   and K       like Po-left spring melons
represent everything later       down in the marsh
I didn’t read some before       when the horses pass in front of
perhaps Spokane or Black Mountain       the bonds I admit abandoned me
before this       my ice was as blue as the rain
flowering a text fine       the word a state sun already blown
the core age behind       in a Red Army cart “tightly sealed”
a Third Way of gifts tying bands       having fit Mei
by the Tongzhou-Bolinas freeway       my condition is scree served by a racist
like in a pure prosaic in Poetry       Warhol’s hot tour
arriviste lit       a bar near Kunming
I admit later on      it’s only a styrofoam cooler


*Yu Jian is a contemporary Chinese poet from Yunan. This is a trans-trans of his 1993 poem “Tie-lu. fu-jin-de. yi-dui. you-tong.” “A Stack of Gas Cans by the Railroad.” English trans. Simon Patton?