Poems of Xu Lizhi


death by corporations                                                       

POEM ONE

The Last Graveyard

Even the machine is nodding off

Sealed workshops store diseased iron

Wages concealed behind curtains

Like the love that young workers bury at the bottom of their hearts

With no time for expression, emotion crumbles into dust

They have stomachs forged of iron

Full of thick acid, sulfuric and nitric

Industry captures their tears before they have the chance to fall

Time flows by, their heads lost in fog

Output weighs down their age, pain works overtime day and night

In their lives, dizziness before their time is latent

The jig forces the skin to peel

And while it’s at it, plates on a layer of aluminum alloy

Some still endure, while others are taken by illness

I am dozing between them, guarding

The last graveyard of our youth.

             

                                                          POEM  TWO 

                                                     Just Standing Like that 

 

The paper before my eyes fades yellow

With a steel pen I chisel on it uneven black

Full of working words

Workshop, assembly line, machine, work card, overtime, wages…

They’ve trained me to become docile

Don’t know how to shout or rebel

How to complain or denounce

Only how to silently suffer exhaustion

When I first set foot in this place

I hoped only for that grey pay slip on the tenth of each month

To grant me some belated solace

For this I had to grind away my corners, grind away my words

Refuse to skip work, refuse sick leave, refuse leave for private reasons

Refuse to be late, refuse to leave early

By the assembly line I stood straight like iron, hands like flight,

How many days, how many nights

Did I – just like that – standing fall asleep?

 

 

*Chinese Worker who Committed Suicide

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