The least you can do



Selected poems



We worry about not getting translated


Or having to pay the translator

Or having to pay the translator too much for not doing good enough

Or having to pay the translator for losing our own face

Or having not been translated into enough languages

Or having not won an award in a translated language

Or having only won an award, not two, in a translated language

Or having not been awarded across the translated languages

Or having to be machine translated


We are what but worry?




You can't hang a name

On a hook in the sky


Nor can you hang a word

On that hook of air


How do you know that the poem

Is about her, not about her, or her-her?


Time stays to leave

Time is a word with zero teeth


An apple being cut and eaten

Its hard white flesh in that living hand


That musics its way into the night

Another number about to die


Why not just install this pair

Of eyes in the slit of things?



The message

You are saying these people are not good enough because they come from elsewhere

You are saying their English is too creative for your fine sensibilities

You are saying their growing numbers are a constant threat

You are saying they are never as good as you, genetically even

You are saying no

You are saying yes to only what comes cheap

You are saying they do not deserve the largess

You are saying people are so kind towards them, no, too kind

You are saying things should never have happened like that

You are saying you would never do the same if it were you

You are saying you wish things were different, like before

You are saying you can't compromise quality

You are saying you always put quality first, before race

You are saying you belong to a people of no colour

You are saying you never concern yourself with things like that

You are saying but you do have a problem

You are saying that you prefer

You are saying that you choose to

You are saying you are a rarity that refuses to be contaminated

You are saying it's not too late —


You are not saying any of these
You make it possible that they remain failures
The least you can do




Defriend them

Deselect their titles

Delete their addresses

Defeat their purposes

Deny them what they have denied you

Dilapidate anything to do with them

Dissociate the sky they think they are


Disprove that single thing they call 'theirs'




Ouyang Yu headshotOuyang Yu is a poet still alive and writing. Enough said.

Topic tags: Ouyang Yu, poetry



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Existing comments

Beautiful. Thanks.
Peter Goers | 24 July 2018

Great poems
Anne Benjamin | 24 July 2018


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