Yang Xiaobin|A Toast to the Female Sun

“A Guide to Post-Mortem Affairs“, audio by Yang Xiaobin

Produced by The Tenonists

A Guide to Post-Mortem Affairs

 The moment I dropped dead, they
 blamed me for my hasty departure.
  
 Actually, it was the first time I died,
 and I forgot to bring my wallet and keys:
 “To be continued.”
  
 I closed my mouth on the way out, snuffed out
 the sunlight deep in my throat.
 Next time I could die more handsomely, I think.
 In my dream I should at least
 remember to wash my spikes and bristles clean.
  
 Later, I found I could not muster the breath to sing.
 I suddenly felt like I wanted to wake up, but
 they thought it better for me to remain dead,
 so they lit a fire, celebrated my silence. 

后事指南

 我刚死的时候,他们
 都怪我走得太匆忙。
  
 其实,我也是第一次死,
 忘了带钱包和钥匙:
 “一会儿就回来。”
  
 我随手关上嘴巴,熄掉
 喉咙深处的阳光。
 我想下次还可以死得再好看些。
 至少,要记得在梦里
 洗干净全身的毛刺。
  
 后来,我有点唱不出声。
 我突然想醒过来,但
 他们觉得我还是死了的好,
 就点了些火,庆祝我的沉默。 



A Toast to the Famale Sun

 But I didn’t realize the sun was female
 until she squatted down to pee.
  
 She’s been uncharacteristically lively since early morning,
 hopping along the treetops and licking at the windows like 
 a juvenile delinquent fresh out of the penitentiary.
  
 She was burning all over. She seemed to be looking for water to drink.
 I handed her a cold, manly beer,
 “You’ve got a fever. Cool off a bit.”
   She grasped me by the back of the neck and didn’t let go.
 “Cut the crap, and take a drink of this.”
 She slurped me up, while spewing out the darkness of the previous night.
  
 “Well, bottoms up.”
  
 Just like that she sucked the ocean dry with one gulp, then lay drunk on the horizon:
 “The world is so soft. You really can’t do anything with him.” 

为女太阳干杯

 不过,当太阳蹲下来嘘嘘的时候,
 我才发现她是女的。
  
 她从一清早就活泼异常。
 树梢上跳跳,窗户上舔舔,有如
 一个刚出教养所的少年犯。
  
 她浑身发烫。她好像在找水喝。
 我递给她一杯男冰啤:
 “你发烧了,降降温吧。”
  
 她反手掐住我脖子不放:
 “别废话,那你先喝了这口。”
 她一边吮吸我,一边吐出昨夜的黑。
  
 “好,那我们干了这杯。”
  
 瞬间,她把大海一口吸干,醉倒在地平线上:
 “世界软软的,真拿他没办法。” 


Magic Mirrorism

 After squeezing out, I forgot
 how to become shorter than myself.
 Even the stars are white-dwarfed into golf-like orbs.
 What else can't be reduced?
 Even time can be bent.
 How can I complain that
 the burden of life is too heavy?
 If you can't be short, at least
 it’s not that hard to be fat–it’s simply a matter of
 facing the sky, listening to the sound of
 of the wind in the recesses puffing at the skin.
 In fact, it’s not too hard to understand.
 All I have to do is to face the mystery.
 Everything is twisted with such dreadful grace.
 And every piece of crooked, deformed fruit
 can blossom into an eye-catching smile. 

哈哈镜主义

 挤出来后,我忘了
 怎么才能比自己更矮。
 连星星都白矮成高尔夫球,
 还有什么是不能紧缩的。
 连时间都能折腰,
 我又怎么好意思抱怨
 生活的扁担太重呢。
 如果矮不起来,至少
 胖是容易的——无非是
 面对苍穹,谛听一阵阵
 凹处的风声吹鼓皮囊。
 其实,这没什么难懂的。
 我只要站到玄机前,
 一切拧巴都婀娜得要命。
 而每一颗歪瓜劣枣,
 也都绽放出夺目的笑脸。 


Winter at the Sawmill

 Long are the saw’s teeth; short is the day.
 The plant manager bundled up the forest and piled it on the bank of the river.
 A small waterfall concealed fish and mysteries, along with dead branche
 secretly reciting poetry, grinding their teeth
 while sucking the melting ice.
 The plant manager dreamed of sawing out a comfortable living from under the bark.
 Listen to the north wind, as hoarse as
 sawdust stuck in the back of the throat.
 Snow tried to moisten winter’s throat, but forgot 
 how the wren’s crisp voice was formed.
 The plant manager climbed out of the chipper alone,
 cracks all over his body, like snowy mountains
 syncopated and sinking into a frenzied whisper. 

锯木厂的冬天

 锯齿长,白昼短。
 厂长把森林捆起来堆到河岸上。
 小瀑布暗藏鱼玄机,顺枯枝
 偷偷吟诗。一边磨牙
 一边吮吸融冰。
 厂长梦见从树皮下锯出小康,
 听北风,也一样嘶哑,
 好像木屑卡在舌根。
 雪要给冬天润喉,却忘了
 鹪鹩的清脆嗓门是怎样练成的。
 厂长独自爬出削片机,
 满身裂痕,好像雪山的布景
 在切分音下陷入迷狂和呢喃。 


A Guide to the Big Bang

 Where is Cosmos? My Cosmos is missing.
 I just felt it in my pocket.
  
 Cosmos can be naughty at times, so I hold 
 him in my hand
 Loath to part with you, my Cosmos.
  
 Let him endlessly expand, make a spectacle of himself, so that
 he gloats, full of himself.
  
 He smiled, Cosmos actually smiled,
 what kind of world is this?
  
 When I close my eyes, Cosmos envelops me.
 When I open my mouth, Cosmos sings along.
  
 Cosmos you are no impassioned scatter,
 but winsome dahlia, dahlia!
  
 I hate him, as I hate my own shadow.
 When night falls, I start to miss him.
  
 My Cosmos is surely lost, lost on the road?
 I look back and Cosmos explodes.


大爆炸指南

 宇宙在哪呢?宇宙不见了。
 刚才我还在口袋里摸到它。
  
 宇宙有时候不乖,就捏在手心里。
 我舍不得送人的宇宙。
  
 让它无限膨胀,出洋相,这样
 宇宙就更自以为了不起。
  
 它笑了,宇宙它居然笑了。       
 这是一个什么世界啊。
  
 我闭上眼,宇宙就笼罩我。
 我一张嘴,宇宙会唱起来。
  
 (宇宙谁说你松散泼辣,
 宇宙就是美眉茉莉,茉莉!)
  
 我恨它,就像恨我的影子。
 天空暗下来,我开始怀念它。
  
 宇宙真的不见了,是掉在了路上?
 一回头,宇宙爆炸了。 


Excess Supply Weekly Report

 On the first day, I sold nightmares,
 but no one bought them.
 Jumbles of nightmares piled up in the bedroom, intertwined like flesh and bones.
  
 On the second day, I sold yawns, but no one was interested either.
 Steaming hot, freshly baked yawns, 
 Were they so wet that they weighed more than people could bear?
  
 On the third day, I started to sell sneezes.
 Such a thunderous roar, that more fled than arrived.
 I wondered, did I
 need something more discreet?
  
 On the fourth day, I decided to sell laughter.
 Ha-ha, heh-heh, whee-hee, haw-haw.
 as you could imagine whee-hee was the most expensive, because it’s harder to come by.
 The lover who leapt through the window to get his hands on one
 smashed his front teeth and now can’t close his mouth properly.
  
 On the fifth day, I was sure heartbeats would sell well.
 But I was surrounded on all sides by roaring machine guns and thumping drums,
 so much pain, so many transactions.
 The heartbeats were finally overwhelmed, and fell to the ground.
  
 On the sixth day, I secretly sold libido.
 Flushing, panting, becoming erect, until there was not a single piece left.
 Buyers and sellers collapsed on the floor in exhaustion.
  
 On the last day, I had only dreamless sleep to sell.
 But the moment I examined my goods, I fell asleep, knowing nothing of what happened afterwards. 


后销售主义者周记

 第一天,我卖的是噩梦,
 但一个都没卖出去。   
 梦和梦,堆在卧室里,骨肉相连着。
  
 第二天,我改卖哈欠,也无人问津。
 热腾腾的新鲜哈欠,是不是太湿,
 以至重量超过了人们的承受力?
  
 第三天,我开始卖喷嚏。
 一阵响亮,逃走的比赶来的还多。
 我很奇怪:难道
 非要更私密才行吗?
  
 第四天,我决定卖笑。
 呵呵哈哈嘻嘻嘿嘿,当然
 嘻嘻的价高,因为太难了。
 那个跳上窗口来抢购嘻嘻的恋人
 撞碎了门牙,还合不拢嘴。
  
 第五天,我想心跳一定卖得更好。
 但四周机关枪突突,鼓声咚咚, 
 如此地痛,如此地畅销。
 心跳终究敌不过,应声倒地。
  
 第六天,我偷偷卖起欲望来。
 潮红、激喘、勃起,一件不留。
 买的和卖的都累垮了。
  
 最后一天,我只有无梦的睡眠可以卖。
 但我一示范就睡着了。此后我一无所知。 


A Guide to Appreciating the Sea of Sunflowers

Enter from the east and you will 
 see them, lined up, looking up to the setting sun. 
 Such solemnity, as though the world had
 closed its eyes smiling.
 Continue westward and you might even find,
 in the glittering tides,
 more gold of affection, falling heavily
 onto the field of illusions. 
 As the saying goes, if you plant gold,
 you always garner sunflowers. And so, 
 you don’t need too intimate a touch
 for the honeybees to make fragrances enshroud 
 memory’s thorns. Whether you 
 recognise yourself or not, the necessary flash
 will reflect the inexplicable happiness 
 and how it emits, 
 from the garland on your head,
 the rotten smell of raging fire. 

向日葵花海赏花指南

 从东边踏入,你就会
 看见它们列队仰望夕阳。
 如此肃穆,彷彿世界已经
 微笑着闭上了眼睛。
 继续往西,你还可以在波光        
 粼粼里找到更多
 情感的黄金,沉甸甸地
 落在幻觉的田野上。
 俗话说,种下的是黄金,
 收割的总是葵花。那么,
 不用太亲暱的爱抚,
 蜜蜂就会让香气氤氲
 在记忆的刺点。在
 必须的闪光里,不管你
 是不是认出自己,
 都能照出莫名的快乐
 从头顶上的花环,
 散发出烈火的腐味。 


A Guide to Gold Panning

 Compared with yellow, it is indeed 
 a little heavy. That’s hardly surprising.
 But it’s a bit over the top if even bamboo poles 
 in dreams are piled up to make towers. 
 Regardless, the processes are as complex
 as the fun is real —
 My patience is fine like sand, my mood
 muddy like silt, yet my hands, well-versed
 in the quenching methods they learnt on Mars,
 splatter fireflies across the sky, too beautiful 
 to recognise the dirt face that once was. 
 Nevertheless, dressing up truly makes all the difference:
 only then do I know what vivacity is. 
 But the sea is another matter entirely —
 pretending to own gold only to 
 put on appearances, as if the world  
 had hidden under a piece of golden foil 
 and stayed for thousands of years. Turn over 
 a yellow-dotted page, where only
 fish’s clenched teeth remain faintly visible, but
 can all love and hate hang 
 on the ear lobe of the future? Might all truth
 fall into the historical trap of the ring finger? 
 Fine, keep stirring until 
 the colour of manure becomes glorious 
 and offal becomes hard, like a man,
 curled up, shining bright, welcoming
 the sweaty touch of the setting sun.  

淘金指南

 比起黄色来,它确实
 重了些。这并不出乎意料。
 可是,连梦里的竹竿也能
 叠出些塔来,就有些过分了。
 无论如何,趣味有多实在,
 工序就有多繁琐——
 我的耐心细成了沙子,心情
 烂成了淤泥,但巧手
 从火星学来的淬炼法,
 溅出漫天流萤,漂亮得
 认不出曾经是土脸。
 不过,一打扮真不寻常:
 我才知道什么叫水灵。
 但海根本是另一回事了——
 只是假装有黄金,显出 
 很富贵的样子,仿佛世界
 藏在一片金箔下面发呆,
 度过了几千年。翻开一张
 有黄斑的书页,只有
 鱼的切齿依稀难辨,但
 一切爱恨都能悬挂在
 未来的耳垂?所有真理
 都上了无名指的历史圈套?
 好吧,继续搅,直到
 粪的颜色也辉煌起来,
 杂碎都变硬,像条汉子,
 灿烂地蹲成一团,迎接
 夕阳汗津津的抚摸。 


A Guide to the Old Society

 The reason I leave for the old society
 is to find a warlord to have a drink with, and, if time permits, 
 buy a famine to slim down with while I’m there. 
  
 Of course, I’d better check in on the widespread devastation:
 rebelling against the rampant tyrants
 would be a decent adventure. 
  
 I leave for the old society because I want to
 fool a female traditional Chinese character into a relationship. 
 Why not wear a tattered mantle
 and give the last female sculpted railing a pat? 
  
 Once I’m gone it’ll be hard for me to come back.
 For the old society is too old:
 it is a real priceless antique. Whereas the new society
 is but a knock-off of the old one.  

旧社会指南

 我去旧社会,其实是为了
 找个军阀喝杯酒。假如时间宽裕,
 就顺便买场饥荒来瘦瘦身。
  
 当然,最好参观下满目疮痍,
 在恶霸横行时揭竿而起
 也会是一次不错的历险。
  
 我去旧社会,还有
 骗女繁体字谈个恋爱的小心思。
 要不,穿件破马褂,
 拍一拍末代的雕花女栏杆?
  
 这一去,我就很难回来了。
 因为旧社会太旧,
 是价值连城的真古董。而新社会
 不过就是旧社会的山寨版。 


A Guide to the Value of Starlight

 When you smile you are pretty like a gold coin.
 In the bedroom flower bush, you 
 cover your belly with your left hand and hold
 a thick microphone in your right. Your 
 coquettish voice falls as that of Wang Fei’s rises, 
 You’re dying to throw an apron like a lasso
 over all the voyeurs in the universe. 
 Pointing to the heavens, you ask them 
 to launch a few more stars with rockets.
 You take a bite at a freshly roasted rabbit, 
 the shining grease unable to illuminate the bones within,
 and you can only paste the steaming breast meat
 to the teeth of a wolf howling for food.
 You put on rabbit ears, and dance
 a Broadway can-can, kicking your
 rainbow embroidered legs, mopping up
 the panoply of reading glasses in the front row. 
 Even if the blush was mixed into the fake cognac, 
 it would not make your dimples able to reveal
 the hornet’s gaudy posturing. No wonder
 the Milky Way tightens its ancient heart
 every time you frown.
 What the Milky Way worries about the most
 is the flickering you,
 pretending to be Vega,
 throwing yourself into
 Orion’s forest, wiggling your deft tongue 
 and whispering: ‘mua mua’.   

星光值指南

 你一笑就漂亮得像金币。
 在卧室的花丛间,你左手
 遮着小肚子,右手握住
 粗壮的麦克风。你的
 嗲声音跟王菲此起彼伏,
 恨不得把腰围像绳套一样
 甩给全宇宙的窥视者。
 你指着苍穹,催他们
 用火箭多发射几颗星星。
 你自己啃起刚出炉的烤兔:
 油色可鉴,但照不出骨头,
 只能把胸肉热腾腾地
 贴到嗷嗷待哺的狼牙上。
 你戴上兔耳,跳一段
 百老汇康康舞,劈出
 彩虹般绣腿,一举扫荡了
 前排形形色色的老花镜。
 就算把红晕掺在假干邑里,
 也不会让酒窝随便暴露
 虎头蜂的艳姿。难怪
 你挤一次眉,银河就
 绷紧一次古老的心脏。
 银河最担心的就是
 像你这样忽明忽暗的,
 假扮成织女,扑向
 猎户的森林,舞动巧舌
 低语:“么么哒。” 


Yang Xiaobin 杨小滨
Born in 1963, Yang Xiaobin is a poet, artist and critic. He is the author of ten poetry volumes and a number of critical/scholarly works, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of A-Cross Poetry (Taiwan). He has won international and domestic prizes including Hu Shih Poetry Prize, First Book of Collected Poems (Modern Poetry Society, Taiwan), among others. Having earned his Ph.D. at Yale University, Yang Xiaobin is now a research fellow at Academia Sinica and lives in Taipei. 

 

“A Guide to Post-mortem Affairs”, “A Guide to the Big Bang”, “Excess Supply Weekly Report” – translation: Cui Yixiong (崔奕雄) and Stephen Nashef
“A Guide to Appreciating the Sea of Sunflowers”, “A Guide to the Value of Starlight”, “A Guide to Gold Panning”, “A Guide to the Old Society” – translation: Shen Zhi (沈至) and Stephen Nashef
“A Toast to the Female Sun”, “Magic Mirrorism”, “Winter at the Sawmill” – translation: Jia Wei (葭苇) and Stephen Nashef

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