Fan Jinghua







A Secret


That secret of mine lives

A whole life in your heart;

From infancy to dotage,

It knows no food and flesh of this world.

It is mine, but I have never owned it,

So small and so immense.




Summer Erosion


soleful sorrow soars up to stomach, the long process of sensation

singes and scorches till something sours in his throat

and with you never in sight always in mind, the perhaps shame is

the obsession with your voice in video clips and the enlargement of your pix

(oh, some often mosaicked part that also opens my palpable imaginations)

the inability to shun away from the flower of illusion

born out of will and opening to any direction he turns

that you will descend nightly into his superreal surreal dreams

as a parachute-angel in a blanket coat over red blue purple bikini underwear

as you fall upon his neck chest abdomen groin thigh and leg

with your chin breast belly thigh and knee and foot

your warm softness pressing against his warm moisture

and two are stuck and sucked together by numerous vacuumed pores

it is not you are drowned in the world but the world is drowned in you

the day is not a day and the night is not a night but it is time and time only

on which and along which you float as time rides time and day rides night

and it happens today as it may well be any day

your limbs find their ways and measures into each other

like dotted electric lines hooked up with a kite, an only stable shape

below the clouds that keep changing from apes to horses

like an unsatiated heart bubbling out countless small white flowers

blooming un-self-awaredly cheerfully along the grassy slope

that leads your vision to the vastness of woolen sky ocean blue

then a black slimy mossy foil stuff crab-moves in the scene

to nudge in some sudden horrid tacit knowledge

that after this life there will never again lovers

so detachedly dedicated to each other savagely recklessly and shamelessly

who sing of themselves in silent mode and aspire not to be noticed

while pampering the idea that he has what he has for himself

and your tentacles have grown into a Victorian bud

untouchable, unamendable and prone to any scratch

whose phase of maturation should be prematurely cherished and commemorated

in an abbey of oblivion before taking the next sure step to the animal society

where fat bellies lumped in front of incurable crooked waists can always find cute hinds

this is not speciesism and humans love doggy style

but let’s hereby reiterate our prejudice

even if this is a retrospective performance art, it does not go into your area of studies

your virtues are on the verge of a paradigm shift as female beauty has all been post-colonized

the established is established for reflection not for pedestal

as memory of consummation needs not remembrance but greed, ache and desire

it’s a summer window-framed thing with a tree standing, wavering its green bells

that are browning fast as your moans of a morning dove boost an instant mammal fetish

now you have long undone your promise of not undoing the man’s love

and he says and unsays so much that you are free to undo yourself

as the room of summer is emptied as every summer

I have noticed that you did not try to remember but you just forget to forget

the delicate pattern of scratches from interlocking leaves

on the windowpane gone with the non-erodible summer




Contours of a Memory


Those ink drops have a life of their own;

They appease themselves.

Coming out of that pen of mine, tracing the contours of a memory

They are to balance those dots and broken lines,

With their dark blue weight. Munari’s Useless Machines[1],

Strung up and out, and driven by death wish.

Auto-start only to switch itself off.

A bifurcated style of a flower was burning like a joss stick,

In a time boat filled with whispers, trembling and amazement[2],

Sailing on the stray water of Time,

Where we wrapped each other up

To make ourselves a sepulchre.

An inflexible sunray cut a fissure through the stone curtains,

Waking us up to watch it dancing on the mound of your groin,

Your body increasingly translucent, while we were gradually

Dispersed toward the two ends of a spectrum.

A spectrum of what? Is it the impulsive wind

That introduced a principle beyond pleasure to a suffocating secret

Like a glinting stream. You could hear it

When you were alone on any bed,

Since a shrouded afternoon pre-consumed the night.

We were there to be gone, the site would soon

Exist only as a shady context for poems after poems,

An indefinable there, where the music

That you knuckled my forehead to get

And we tongued each other’s tender part to melt

Echoed upon echoes

And went inward and spiral like mountain mist.

Yes, oh yes, I am writing and rewriting your body colour and contours

With my cherished brush pen,

But even the most literal stains do not stay more than

The opening of a hand, not for a second thought,

Let alone a little dialectical musing over love and morality.

Maybe advisable to forestall the pre-text

Of a concentric minded suicide[3], and smear the margins

With a sketch of the fulfilling last journey, the poetics of desperation,

For whatever remains of us would be absorbed

By the nullification of body and mind, the ashing, the fading.

Memory no longer disciplined by flesh

Could not hold the right to words.





[1] Munari’s “Useless Machines” refers to Italian artist Antonio Munari’s design.

[2] For « trembling and amazement when we … make ourselves a sepulchre, » see Mark 16:8: « And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they anything to any man; for they were afraid. »

[3] « A concentric mind suicide…. » alludes to Japanese double suicide shinjū (“in the heart”), when two lovers commit double suicide after they take a « michiyuki, a small poetical journey, where lovers evoke the happier moments of their lives and their attempts at loving each other » (Wikipedia « shijū »).




The Sea*


       (for Mr. Liu who died on July 13, 2017 and His Wife)


Miss Moore claimed: The sea has nothing to give but a spacious grave,

And it is human nature to stand in the way.

But who can block the way of the sea and won’t be buried there?

Only the determined bird Jingwei, looking eastward from the Axe-Hammer Mountain

Into the expanse of her journey, finds the jade in her mouth pulverized into ashes.


Miss Moore appeared fragile, but she took the view from a tenacious man,

Believing that men are born with the right to regard the sea.

This, she insists like a hermit, a saint,

And even her shadow has cultivated an ability to nourish its skin from air,

Like a candle wick breathing in fire to keep her warm.


Moore the poet also claimed there were real toads in imaginary gardens.

As a reader, I wish to interpret in my way: There is a real grave in the immateriality of the sea,

And the ill-wrought urn will be beyond the dogmas of New Criticism.

In The Book of History, there will be not a single scribble of this,

Since poets have never been welcome in The Republic, and they are reminded, repeatedly,

Of their duty to be practical, and for that even Hammurabi cannot be their excuse and shield.


They have been pleaded that “personal integrity means immunity from the evil”,

And they have been shown explicit resentment and implicit benefit,

And this Madame is re-singled, labelled as malfunctioning agoraphobic and eleutherophobic.

Personal accountability is not practiced individually in this country, and poets need

Live quietly on money. So they are free to ride the white deer on the East-End Cliff,

To wade the Oasis Ford and taste the globefish which may stop their flatulence.



© Fan Jinghua


Note:* This poem quotes some words from Marianne Moore’s poem “A Grace.”




Circe On Thursday


       Every sorceress is a pragmatist at heart.

              —-Louise Glück


Thursday breaks with your dream of a dark green mountain,

And the sun, with faceful languor, sits on its bed, lingering.

Below the mountain, in the blue house, a man sinks behind the headboard,

And there, he is gradually living himself into a pig.

Oh, this is a figure of speech, not the like of Circe,

But the way you picture the scene has turned him into something

Like a pig, or a docile lion at the best.

The slow transformation is imperceptibly comforting,

And you smile to yourself, complacent with the company,

As if you have always known there is a floating log in sight, reachable,

While you zigzag across a treacherous sea.

Looking back, you would think the voyage started a little too early,

And given another chance, you’d probably only want

To attend a garden in a clearing by the dark green mountain.

But a crew of another kind triggered your imagination of adventures.

The wavy way is now a daily route, and you walk it,

Too complacent to watch for distant icebergs or dark clouds.

Your ears hear that they are not Bible fables or pedestrian romances,

But your eyes see them as passing ambulances.

You used to climb a ladder to watch, and now the ladder has laid itself down

Like the wake behind a boat wiping out the course into foams.

At times, you wish to go lying on the wake, stripped bare, and exhibit

To the negligent God

The X-shape of your hidden, primary whiteness.

After all, it’s Thursday, and you’ve come so deep into a week

In this late season of the year,

And your desire moderates itself with the ambient temperature.

Today’s afterglow is making room for tomorrow’s light,

And you know you do not need to wake up early

To the day of rest and pray.



© Fan Jinghua













Fan Jinghua (b.1965) is a bilingual poet and translator from China. His poems have been published in literary magazines and anthologies in Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and USA. He has been invited to several international poetry festivals and has read his poems in different occasions, and he has been awarded prizes for his poetry and translation. Fan Jinghua works as a university lecturer and lives in Singapore.


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