Download PDF Here
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing English-Chinese Edition January 2023
To Mother, poems by Yan Li.
When you brought me into this world,
I was destined to have your bliss like a fish in the water.
Beyond swimming in rivers, lakes and oceans,
I have discerned the bizarre tricks of beneficial baits and
the depth of man-made whirlpools.
Once I spent my whole breath that I have held for decades
to dive into poetry that plumbs the definition of survival
and learned severely —
as long as it is a fishbowl
it cannot become bigger beyond its boundaries.
The tides of time surge turbulently.
The day you bid farewell to me
Yet the you who has inhabited inside me
continues to bless me to surf thousands of miles
This is the day you bring me out into the world again —
that new world of heaven and earth,
you are also going for the first time
and my imagination
follows you to learn dancing a second time
You are eternal —
no other milk is comparable.
I believe in the claims of flesh and blood
but not in any abstract notions of
Limited Alcohol Consumption
My father and I never exchanged
Nor did we ever call over cell phones
He never treated me at McDonald’s.
I know this is bullshit
Because he died in the devastated days of the Cultural Revolution
In the early 1980s
Now he and I can sometimes mumble a bit
That only happens in my drunken daze
So that’s one reason for me to drink
I want to drink until he could talk to me on my cell phone
Connect me via emails
Eat at Starbucks if not at McDonald’s
To drink until all of these things could happen
You have to have a divine’s drinking capacity
After clearing out my literary heritage
I am only left with a shrill
Not discerning between polite and procedural
I have spent my life rehearsing that
Became the bird
Yan Li (poet and artist) was born in Beijing in 1954. He started writing poetry in 1973 and painting in 1979. He was a member of the pioneering art group “Star Painting Club” and the literary group “Today” in Beijing in 1979, and held the first solo exhibition of pioneering art in China in 1984. In 1987, he founded the poetry journal “First Line New York” (which ceased publication in 2000) and resumed publication in New York in June 2020, where he continues to serve as editor-in-chief. He is the president of the Overseas Chinese Writers’ Association.