For Liu Xiaobo
“Silence is still the story of the East.”
The spring breeze that has seen him
through the tiny barred window
now carries his thoughts, his sorrow
along the river, eastward, nightward.
Through the tiny barred window,
he recites to the world forbidden words.
Along the river – Eastward – Nightward,
ashy faces flow, chanting a dirge.
He recites to the world forbidden words
by tapping his fingers on black bricks.
Ashy faces chanting a dirge
until they are renamed martyrs on escarpment.
By tapping his fingers on black bricks,
he bears the pain of seeing light.
Until martyrs are spoken of on escarpment,
he waits for a hole to break the sky.
He bears the pain of seeing light,
caused not by brightness, but opacity.
He waits for a hole in the sky,
and will call it an all-seeing eye.
They say the spring breeze has come, weightless.
It brings his forbidden words of might.
And they say it returns with the image of an empty
chair reserved for a silenced martyr.
Download the podcast (reading by Nic Sebastian)
Nicholas YB Wong (website) is the author of Cities of Sameness (Desperanto, forthcoming) and the winner of several awards, including the Sentinel Quarterly Poetry Competition and nominations for the Best of the Net and Best of the Web anthologies in 2010. He is currently a poetry editor for THIS Literary Magazine and a poetry reader for Drunken Boat.
I used to think you’re solid,
as I’m: like petals that
speak to the colourblind, or the ice
refusing to melt under the fatherly sun.
But I see you can be
the mucus on a toad,
or the flakes on a skating
ground, to be incised by
silvery blades. You give the Octobering
touch, or you’re the touch in October.
I see your desire evaporate.
falling petals on a running river,
which delivers lovers.
Solid is about solidarity.
This is the first time I learn from
water and feel sorry for ice.
by Nicholas YB Wong
Read by Roger Phang — Download the MP3