Yang Jijun [Shandong]
All the Secrets Are in the Ditches (group poems)

The Reed Field in the Winter

Finally, I can gaze into the distance
Finally, I can light a cigarette

The reeds that bow not to the wind are carried away cart by cart
They were taller than you by a head

Thus there emerge you
And the two ditches crisscrossed

Now, you can stride. You came in summer
But you did not live here

Now, the whole field of reeds belongs to you
Only you can set traps for the foxes

Why only one reed is left uncut while all the others are gone
Because it sprouts again from its root

Why does it look like a periscope
Why is a red thread tied to it

The Secrets Are All in the Ditches

The sky is darker than usual, a sign of the rain
That has yet to start

The reeds here are denser than the rain
Without any other barrier, it is still hard to step into them

Not empty space
To place you in

Here it differs from the wilderness overgrown with short weeds
Here is no future and no past for you

You can snap a reed
But you cannot seize a reed field

The field is occupied by reed. No hare can go through
Nor can the sunlight penetrate

In spite of that, here is no secret
Secrets require bigger memory

If there is any secret, it must be in the ditches
Where there is water stored throughout a year

There light and darkness alternate, a big gray bird is on guard
As if guarding a submarine hidden there

A Big Bird

It flies not above the seas
Or along the Yellow River

The wasteland at the Yellow River Estuary abounds in ditches
There it stays in shallow waters

It does not remember when it was hatched
Or whether its parents sent it there

There is no companion or retinue for it
A perfect place for wandering or seclusion

It feeds merely on tiny fish or shrimps
But it grows bigger and bigger

It cares not about loud noises
But it stays alert to little sounds

A group of ministers have secretly turn treacherous
They just need someone who can be justifiably made a new monarch

It is a question
Yet it answers everything

Even it does not hide
It can hardly be found

Expecting a Snow

The Yellow River, the seas and the wasteland
My own territory, my own subjects

My own night, my own candlelight
Three tough brothers

No war occurs between them
Yet sometimes giving up some cities is the price for peace

Once in a storm, they sent messengers to each other
And redivided the territory

Now the border is no longer clear
Somewhere the seeping gets deeper

Now a snow is needed to cover the three brothers
And fill in the gaps

No calliper will be used. If no tree branch is available, they use reed stems
To demarcate their domains

Never expect just one voice. Three loud ones together
Make immense tranquility

Expecting the Reed-Reaper

I no longer count on the wildfire. A month’s burning
Disturbs the distant villages and the world

A sea of reeds. Even the sunlight
Can only shine on a pale face

It never reaches the heart. Nowhere to set foot
No one can do so

Except the reed-reaper
Who cuts his way with a sickle. Holding

Not only a bundle of reeds, but also
The Whole field of reeds

He wields his sickle close to reed roots, picking out darkness in between
I like that

When the wild geese are hovering in the sky
A heavy snow is looming

Can he hold on
That reed-reaper

A Weed

All in large tracts
Linked with ruthless salt alkali, so vast

At least in clusters, they make circles
A solitary one can hardly survive

You see, in those bared patches
Grows not a single weed

A weed is mixed in other weeds
And sways with them

It quiets down when other weeds do so
It thinks a lot that day

When a gust blows, other weeds lie prone
It still stands upright

And then it loses no time in swaying
So as to keep pace

Encountering a Person

Is it that person
The other day you saw strange footprints

You were crossing the wasteland, towards the sea
He was walking to you

People rarely tread there
Who else could he walk to

You might claim that he had entered your territory
But he went beyond it, even farther

You have been used to loneliness which, like your domain
Could not be shared

But there was no path. Even if there had been one
It would not allow two persons to share

It seemed that was not
An encounter by chance

Thus, neither of them questioned
Or looked each others in the eye

Withe a ditch between them, they touched each other’s shoulder
And neither glanced back

Reaping the Reeds

To apply blade to the wilderness
Requires more than a heart of stone

Don’t play the trick of cut-and-kill. There is no star to shoot down
Millions of arrows are targeting at you.

Don’t expect to get a slice here.
A loafer will appear in the poetry of the wilderness

Starting from under the feet, reaping goes to the depths
A path emerges

A path for the wilderness, and for himself
It pushes open the gate to the reed field

Reaping the reeds one by one, tall or short
Leaping is okay elsewhere, but not here

It must be neat
You may not do it in awe, but you must take it seriously

When you stretch your legs
The reed field grows brighter, clouds wafting there

The space is open and vast enough
The gray wild geese in huge flocks now hear the calls

That Is Because It Does Not Blow for a Whole Morning

To reach the sea, you have to cross the wasteland
Weeds roll like surging waves

Don’t take it for a mere passing by
Or take reaching for the ultimate height

Here, you are the only height
They roll towards the sea as well as towards you

It is no easy to lie in the arms of the sea
But now you are holding the wasteland and the sea in your arms

The weeds surge and roll

Better stand upright than catch the sea breeze. Stand up and you will be the lonely king
If haunted, you will be joining them

Maybe you think this place has not been isolated enough
That is because it does not blow for a whole morning

The Wasteland

This is not a lyrical place
Even when the winds stop

Weeds upon weeds, they go beyond the skyline
That is how the wasteland should lie waste

Patchy white on the ground looks like snow
That is the salt and saltpetre crystallized from its bones

No doubt, you are lonely
But you are like a drop of water seeing the sea

The wasteland is thousands of times lonelier than you
You think it can endure anything

You expected to find love there
But you end up growing ten times lonelier

It does not care whether your throw yourself into the sea
Or stand by the sea awhile

You can be lonely with it
Or roll with the weeds

You can change your mind
The wasteland needs consoling

(Tr. Shi Yonghao;石永浩 译)

About the Author:
Yang Jijun, an excellent contemporary Chinese poet, born in 1971 in Dongying City, Shandong Province. He is a member of Chinese Poetry Society and Shandong Writers Association. He has published poems in “Poetry Magazine”, “Yanhe River”, “Big River”, “Literature Monthly”, “Silver Poetry Magazine”, “Far Poetry” and so on. He won the 9th Xu Zhimo Micro Poetry Prize and the Gold Medal in the International Poetry Competition of World Poetry magazine. He published poetry collections such as “The First and the Point” and “The Man Who Walked through the Reed Field”, “Blacksmith”, “Screwdriver”, and “Bronze” (in Chinese-English), etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *