Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Epigram #16

Every day life sends you another invitation,

And you hem and haw over it,

But you always take it in the end.

It’s too good a party to pass up.

posted by ferret at 12:33 pm  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


A meeting on new instant noodles

Sky high conference room

Windows glass open on the sky

For a gaze that lingers towards towers

All around and popping out

Appearing suddenly out of a grey grey mist

As if painted in negative on parchment

Centuries, centuries ago


For nothing is new

These new noodles, new towers, new sights

All enveloped, all wrapped in the great all


Talk in the conference room continues

The mist rolls in, covering everything

posted by ferret at 5:41 pm  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Translation: China Rising

As part of Mr Xi’s current China Dream campaign, I’ve seen a lot of these kinds of poems plastered all over the subways.

Here’s an interesting one:










“China Rising”

The great tree grows lush and green

Strong in the winds of our age

Uniting the power of heaven and earth

Breathing the air upon China’s great peaks.

These are good days,

China is rising

The world is within our grasp!


What a difference stopping to read these poems makes! You’d think it’s just some silly stuff about trees, but no, it’s a tree that’s going to take over the world. Whoa.

posted by ferret at 6:10 pm  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shanghai in a Box – Part 7

[Shanghai has just come out of one the gray, rainy abysses that often descend upon it. Now the sky is shining with a new resilience, bringing new light to its citizenry. Full of this radiance, many are prompted to do something out of the ordinary. Ferret sits outside a coffee shop and goes through his wallet. He finds the card that he'd been given so long ago.]


Cai Xin


Logistics Manager


Floor 7, Building 23, 1285 Huaihai Middle Road

[There is no other information on the card. It's been a while, but Ferret figures he might as well try and get his reward. He could use the cash. Plus, it's stopped raining and he's optimistic, ready for an adventure. A quick search on google maps reveals that 1285 is near the Changshu Lu Metro Station. It looks like a long residential lane. The name on the card is rather strange.]


Cài  Xīn

[It's pronounced the same way as the word 菜心, a type of vegetable. Who would have such a name? Ferret decides it's time to find out.]

posted by ferret at 4:35 pm  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

False Starts #70

It occurs to me that a proper education should fundamentally do two things: 1) help you figure out the life you want to live and 2) give you the knowledge you need to live that life.

I’m not really sure any institution can do all of this, or if there is any one that really wants to.

posted by ferret at 10:48 pm  

Friday, April 11, 2014

False Start #69

I’ve tried many times to tell myself what poetry is, but perhaps it’s a momentary possession of the mind. I’ve gotten to this point when I can feel a poem coming on, the way some epileptics talk about seeing coronas, or neurotics sense waves of panic building. My thoughts ramp up a notch and words begin forming in my mind, ideas and words together. I see structures, contours of the poem forming. Next thing I know, I’m already writing the poem in my head. It’s then I know I need to find a notebook, a computer, anything that will let me get it all down. It’s like the way someone having a fit reaches for their medication.

Of course the analogy doesn’t quite fit. I choose to engage with these sudden fits. I try to get them to happen more. I’ll sit quietly over a cup of coffee waiting for them to happen. And when they do I’ll pursue them to the end. Then nothing gives me more pleasure. In this sense, the whole process is more like having an orgasm.

Still, poetry isn’t as productive as sex and most poets I’ve met would agree that a good lay is way better than writing a good poem. (Although they might say otherwise in certain company.)

The thing about poetry is that it wastes time. It is the ultimate waste of time. At least with screwing you have the potential to get more people, fall in love, whatever. With poetry all you get is more poetry. More words to make more words. And don’t tell me that poetry is made to inspire. Perhaps it does for people who are non-poets: scientists, politicians, business moguls. You know, people who actually do something. But let’s be clear. For poets, if poetry is inspiring, it’s just the inspiration to write more poetry. We continue to make poetry because we just like doing it. It’s our way. Inspiration for inspiration’s sake. Fits for the sake of fits.

posted by ferret at 5:00 pm  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

False Start #68

I’m in a terrible dream. Undifferentiated, pale faces are pursuing me. These men and women turn into devils with dark raspy voices and eyes of burning fire. Unidentified hounds of my past call out: Failure! Nothing! Pathetic nothing!

They are coming. They are coming for me.

I wake up in my darkened room, lit only by the low lights of the electronics charging around me. The lilt of the rain outside enters into the silence.  My heart is pounding. I’m gasping for breath. For a moment, I’m not sure whether the devils are real or not. I look around my room in panic.

Then I tell myself that the real devils don’t appear in dreams. They aren’t mystical beings. They aren’t even figments of the imagination. They’re daywalkers, smiling widely, shaking hands, kissing babies, supposedly saving us all. But deep down they know, and we do too, that they’re only out to save themselves. And we let them betray us.

They aren’t here, I think. They aren’t here.

I fall back asleep.

posted by ferret at 4:14 pm  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Translation: Goose Poem

Per the course for the newest round of Chinese Dream propaganda, a bunch of new posters have gone up near my office. One of them had a poem about geese on it attributed to 晓玲, who turns out to be a singer. She’s most famous for her (very over the top) song 《梦圆中国》which is the audio centerpiece for the Chinese Dream campaign. But enough about her, on to the geese!

My translation:







Goose, goose, goose, goose -

A child’s voice floats across in a song with thousands of years of history.

White feathers, red feet and the poetic spirit are present

Moonlight on lotus blossoms as the shadows of the clouds roll by

May the Chinese civilization flourish forever,

And peace for China be in the people’s hearts!


The poem came complete with some nice folk art:

Geese represent the future of China, you know?

posted by ferret at 5:48 pm  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shanghai in a Box – Part 6

[Xiao Yan takes Ferret to the end of Shouning Lu where it meets Renmin Lu. He follows her across the street and into the old city. In the small back alleys, residents of the ancient decrepit houses are aware of Ferret's presence. They stare at him, not maliciously, simply asking, "What are you doing here?" Xiao Yan turns into the alley leading into a cluster of darkened homes. She beckons Ferret silently, as if he were a dog.]



This way?

Xiao Yan



[They go through the damp and dust of a kitchen just barely sheltered from the elements and walk towards a room bathed in an eerie glow. As they walk inside, Ferret turns to see a man completely surrounded by TV screens and computer monitors projecting silently onto his attentive eyes. ]

Xiao Yan


Wang Qing!

[Wang Qing doesn't hear her.]

Xiao Yan


Wang Qing! A foreigner has come to return your notebook to you.

[Wang Qing suddenly turns his head and focuses on Xiao Yan and Ferret. His face looks wan and tired, full with its sunken eyes and poor skin, but still he grins fiendishly at them and points with frail limbs.]

Wang Qing

哦,请坐, um, please-a sit.

Oh, please sit. Um, please sit.

[Wang Qing points to the ramshackle collection of sheets which makes up his bed.]



Oh, okay.

Xiao Yan


I’m going. Wang Qing, if you’re free come help out at the restaurant.

Wang Qing


I’m not going.

Xiao Yan


Why are you so lazy?

Wang Qing


Lazy?! I’m making money! What the hell do you have to do with it? Get out of here!

[Xiao Yan leaves angrily.]

Wang Qing

I- am very- very sorry. My English  is poor.



Then let’s speak Chinese.

Wang Qing

You have… you have my book-a?


Yes. I have it.

Wang Qing

I can see it?

[Ferret begins to feel very nervous, realizing that he is all alone in a strange place. Wang Qing doesn't seem particularly threatening, but he has no idea what to expect or what's in store.]


Um. Yes.

[Ferret takes out the notebook and tries to offer it to him, but Wang Qing has become distracted. He's looking at one of the TVs.]



Wang Qing

Oh, yes, I sink ziss is good one. You have be watching?

[He points to one of the TVs. It looks like a Chinese cop show. Someone is being interrogated. Ferret's never seen it.]



[Wang Qing snatches the notebook out of Ferret's hands and opens it up. He smiles.]


Did you send this to me? Who is behind all of this?

Wang Qing




Did you send me the notebook?

Wang Qing

Oh, yes. I know. I know. No. I did not do it.


Who did?

[Wang Qing starts watching another TV program for a moment, then puts the notebook down and grabs something from behind one of the TVs and hands it to Ferret. It's a business card.]

Wang Qing

Here. You go here.


What is this?

Wang Qing

Business card.


I know, but why are you giving it to me?

Wang Qing

You go now.

[Wang Qing puts his hand on Ferret's shoulder and begins guiding him towards the door.]


What about my reward?

Wang Qing

Yes. You go.



What about my reward?

Wang Qing

Oh. Yes. He give you.

[Ferret is pissed, feeling that this has all been some elaborate hoax. Maybe someone is about to rob him. He doesn't know. He wants to get out as quickly as possible.]


Okay. Right.

Wang Qing

Bye bye!

[Wang Qing escorts Ferret out of his house. Ferret just wants to leave. He pockets the card without looking at it. He's annoyed and bit worried. He walks back out through the alleys of the old city, keeping his wits about him and watching his back.]

posted by ferret at 3:23 pm  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Words: Petrichor and Nystagmus



Special thanks to Far Enough East

posted by ferret at 10:45 am  
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