Tang Danhong

Three Poems, Translated by Eleni Sikelianos and Jennifer Feeley


From Pears to Butterflies

The Invisible Rose’s Sleeve Dabs the Windowpane

Queen of Oblique Lines


From Pears to Butterflies

A gown’s lapel slips from springtime’s waistline to the ankles
I see summer’s full rumps, embarrassed and sweating
I see the photoflash flash and flash, perfectly round, slightly sour
autumn pears copiously occupy the free market, their butts
slapped by long poles, some violently shaken in both hands

What holds up the pear-shaped part of the body?
An undisciplined Phoenix bike gripped between thighs
I see the axles spin round and round, lubricating oil lovingly pushed
oh, inflated, like rubber-flavored wheels catapulting
their rumps brushing the Phoenixes as they brush past

Aside from the specter of pears here’s a sparkling violin
She puts her hands on her breast tenderly asks for the conductor’s signal
I see strings tighten and tighten, long bow and both hands demand a trembling overtone
I see in rubbing she draws out wings, exposing the naked shape of the butterfly
oh, one grain, then another, egg-laying butterfly, touches upon their suffering

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The Invisible Rose’s Sleeve Dabs the Windowpane

The night large in stature made of pitch-black compassion
just turned over

The red curtain twists its waist halts at the corner
The white curtain rips open the garment’s bodice – rip
A flat terrain, translucent glass breast
laid bare to boss, secretary with a tearing crack

Glass breast oh, glass, you won’t believe it

Sunlight has waded through tears, kisses the eyes’ squint
With bright feet, wine steps to the bottom of the heart

The copy machine glances backward beguilingly, her agitated paper tongue
unfurls in the writing desk’s private cavity, she spins

Gold ringed tooth, high voltage tooth
kissing, a kiss that is both light and white, right?

Since ink is dripping down
fouling the official virginal white lace underwear missive
why doesn’t 8 o’clock to 11 bulge high noon?

Glass breast oh, glass, you’re trembling
The invisible rose escorts you through the night
You are wanton, and dawdle too

The invisible rose has hung up the phone
The invisible rose sobs in my heart

The invisible rose has her emergencies
The invisible rose’s sleeve dabs the windowpane

Glass breast oh, glass, I said
“Only the flickering body holds rough milk”

How could I be wrong?
Shouldn’t the rose be pinned on your left breast?

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Queen of Oblique Lines

Who are those two facing each other
(one on the left, one on the right)
Who has ever had a good heart-to-heart?
It’s by no means breaking waves or parents
Because father pinches rotten peaches
the eddy drowning his middle finger
Who (one taller, one shorter) declares:
a knife captures the enemy
a bandage wraps the food
Because mother takes a step, draws closer
she falls ill from nursing angels, her rotten torso
stumbling: a slope leaning toward the sun

She straightens the sweet wave-lines
makes fruit from two roll into one
she says: let flowers justify the spiral
let father shake the crippled tree
she gives tribute, a box on the ears
so the brackets’ left side faces the vacancy, the right side’s omission
she says: don’t bury yourself in my chest sobbing
as tears might soak my back
She has exhausted symmetry, her rotten torso
a yawn: a slope leaning toward the sun

Like the tango, that somber pause,
a strong wind hugs pounding rain, sinking
as fireworks arcing into the night sky descend
blood in wolfish joy strikes out
Yet you, you are an angel’s ravening skeleton
how can you not be grateful for her food

Like rays of light dangerously jutting out from the hips
her torso: from 20,000 above sea level to the center of the eddy

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