jumping out of one building and into another
Julien Nguyen, Resolute in Privation, 2021. © Julien Nguyen, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

Language: Chinese
Poet: Ma Yan
Translator: Stephen Nashef
Region: China

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jumping out of one building and into another

Three poems by Ma Yan, translated from Chinese by Stephen Nashef. These poems appear in I Name Him Me, published in October 2021 by Ugly Duckling Presse.

Ma Yan (1979–2010) was a Chinese Muslim born in Chengdu, Sichuan province. A writer of both poetry and prose, she graduated from Peking University in 2001 with a degree in classical Chinese literature. While in university she helped to organize the first Weiming Lake Poetry Festival, an annual event that continues to this day, and in 2000 co founded the culture website, New Youth. In 2003 she returned to Chengdu. She passed away on December 28th, 2010 during a visit to Shanghai.

Stephen Nashef currently lives in Beijing where he is studying for a Ph.D in Chinese Islamic philosophy. He was awarded a Henry Luce Chinese Poetry and Translation Fellowship in 2018 and his translations of Ma Yan’s poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review.

公共汽车纪事

闷热,更的是车厢后部
起伏的浪,我如此慎。
之前,抑郁症患者的前身
从南中国的兜里悄悄掏出
食指与拇指之票,避人眼目,
潜伏,正在接近传统

售票收走湿票,两
传统中,存在着的可能性,
但有人不能出现为
,它依靠汗液黏着、紧贴
喊号子的人此刻正经过窗外,
面无表情,并且不着一物。

的振幅里,波的中心
正在人体内移。没有
的人物,里正是拥挤的尽
身下,发动造新的人生,
此刻,抑郁症脚踏菲薄的地壳,
胸中涌起以排遣的犹疑。

要用毅的嘴角抵抗源源不断的词语
要穿密不透的人群。他体内的
如同怀着炙的阴迟钝地杵。
我粗暴起来,不再沉浸于想。
像冰,迅速穿透传统的中心,
融化了。在,同肮脏的土混合着。

Bus Chronicle

It’s stifling, even hotter at the back of the bus
where waves rise and fall. I mind my step.
A long time ago, in a past life, the depressive
took a note between her thumb and forefinger
from South China’s back pocket while no one was looking;
undercover and nearing the Great Tradition.

The conductor took the moist notes, two of them.
The possibility of One exists in the tradition,
but someone once said, Two cannot appear as One.
They stuck and clung through the sweat.
Singing workers are now passing the window,
their faces expressionless and unadorned.

The heart of the oscillator swings inside people’s bodies
caught in the heat of its sweep. No one person
is superfluous; this is the limit of the squeeze.
Under their bodies the engine is still creating new lives
when depression places a foot on the Earth’s meager crust
and a doubt that is hard to dispel erupts in the chest.

Face the torrent of words with a resolute smile
and push through the packed crowds. The heat in their bodies
is a smouldering conspiracy, dumbly stewing.
I become brusque, no longer sunk in my thoughts.
Like the ice coursing through the heart of the Great Tradition,
I melt. Now I mix into the dirt of the earth.

细雪

               Eternity and a Day

穿树皮靴的人,
把我带到深邃的胡同里,
小鸭子胡同,鸭雏胡同,
鸭蛋胡同,哪一个更像真的?
我们在小鸭子胡同里找小偷。
这些坏蛋,他们骗我,
你要把他们找出来。

我要把他们找出来。
这城里天天有人跳楼,
我哥哥说他要“自刎”,
他一边说一边笑。
他们一直跳,
从一栋跳到另一栋,
乘着雨夹雪的风,
趁着没有人抬头看,
他们滑翔。

我是坏人,
但现在不是。
现在我是楚楚可怜。
人人都应该站在我面前,
透过湿润的冷看我。
坏心眼在飞转。

这湿润的冷!
正在弥漫着不清晰的城。
穿树皮靴的人,
抽打着,抽打着。

这些坏人,穿过马路
在清寒中低着他们的头。

Fine Snow

                 Eternity and a Day

The man in bark boots
took me to the depths of the hutongs,
Little Duck Hutong, Duckling Hutong
Duck Egg Hutong—which one sounds more believable?
We are looking for thieves in Little Duck Hutong.
The bastards tricked me
and you’re going to find them.

I’m going to find them.
Every day in this city someone jumps off of a building.
My brother says he wants to slit his own throat.
He says it with a smile.
They keep jumping
out of one building and into another
riding the sleet in the wind
and when no one’s raising their head to look at the sky
they soar.

I can be a bad person
but now I am not.
Now I am delicate and charming.
Everyone ought to stand before me
and look at me through the damp cold.
Bad intentions fly back and forth.

This damp cold!
It’s seeping through this blurred city.
And the man in bark boots
is pummelling away.

The bad guys are crossing the street,
heads lowered in the chill.

玩笑、讽刺、嘲弄和更深刻的意义

献给伟大的 C. Grabbe

在我的胸口汹涌的,不断喷涌而出的
不是乳汁,也不是激情,而是无法命名。
这些单数的人群,他们仅仅是他们。
犹豫着不能断定的,在廊街漫游。
这些人群中的人,在妓院外徘徊,颤抖
抱头痛哭幸福的消逝。污水里我生出
一个儿子,他的名字叫做“我”。
我要触摸我的光环,我要折断我的骨头。
没有一把匕首可以插入他。分开腿,抓住
儿子的头,把他拖出来,把他拉扯大。

Jokes, Irony, Mockery, and Deeper Significances

for the great C. Grabbe

What surges in my chest, what keeps gushing out,
isn’t milk, or passion either. It can’t be named.
The singular crowds, they are only them.
Unsure what to do, they roam the alleyways.
The people inside the crowds pace outside the brothels.
  They tremble
and weep with their heads in their hands for the passing of joy.
  In the filth
I give birth to a son. I name him me.
I want to touch the halo that encircles me, I want to snap the
  bones inside.
No dagger can pierce him. I spread my legs and grab
my son’s head, drag him out, stretch him out big.

Copyright © Stephen Nashef, from I Name Him Me (published by Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021)