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  • The Zoo, and: My Whole Life
  • Mo Mo (bio)
    Translated by Tony Barnstone (bio), Wang Hao (bio), and Du Xian (bio)

the zoo

I find a directory of paradiseand following the address compiled in the language of cannibalsI find a heavily guarded zooCalling me, a leopard moans,"The cat burgled my food"I caress the beast's furPointing at the faraway morning starthe beast murmurs, "Don't provoke the goatHis horns are stilettos"A sleepless golden fish misses the shark who covets herFurious, the golden oriolewants to duel the ants that molested her

I squat next to the hippo's yawnthinking of man's belly tastesSticking out his chest, the praying mantis says from on high,"I'll fight those humans to the end"The panda heaves a deep sigh, "Aaa!I've fought revolutionary struggle for tens of thousands of years,        but my fur remains unchanged"The tiger spots a typo in the Bibleand swears that Heaven is Hell

The hedgehog disagrees and says, "The clouds would like to wear silver"I stop a pig couple sweetly in loveand tell them the ballet theater has been torn to ruinsThe gander kills itself, its blood tainting the swan lakeWhen her periods dry up, the mosquito will turn in panic to any doctor,and flagrantly flirt with the elephantand eat corn on the cob, while the fox,twisting around with a mysterious look, says,"Did you knowI was the beauty queen Wang Zhaojun in my last life?" [End Page 78]

The duck, a veteran informer,earnestly reports, "The ostrich is an arms dealerwho lays nothing but A-bombs, getting countless orders"The penumbra of the east proclaims, "Dawn"I eventually realize thatthe ostrich has become the ruler of paradisewho with tightly closed eyes shakes out feathersand won't answer any of my questionsbut sheds a plan for the Third World Warwritten in the language of birds in the sky

my whole life

Just tangled intimately with a dove in the heavens for a whileGot mocked by the rainbowJust sat Zen with pine trees on the cliff for a whileGot mocked by the moonJust nestled up with the white sail in the waves for a whileGot mocked by the seaJust got tipsy drinking with cranes in the woods for a whileGot mocked by the mushrooms

Just flowered with night-blooming cactus on the roadside for a whileGot mocked by white cloudsJust tumbled with autumn leaves for a whileGot mocked by the earthJust dozed off in the arms of a lion for a whileGot mocked by the hunterPeeped at the blackness of humanity just onceGot mocked by the gods

The rainbow imagines the moon's faceThe sea imagines the mushrooms' breathingAnd the white clouds: how they wish to float on the earth

Murdering hunters dream of being pardoned by guardian godsLiving a chaotic life like thisI scorn destiny [End Page 79]

Mo Mo

Mo Mo 默默 was born in 1964. In 1985 he co-founded the poetry school Sa Jiao (撒 娇派), which he says means "gentle resistance," and its journal. He was jailed in 1986 for his long poem "Growing Up in China." He now runs a residence in Shanghai for wandering poets.

Tony Barnstone

Tony Barnstone is a professor of English and environmental studies at Whittier College. A prolific poet, author, essayist, and literary translator, he is the author of twenty books. His latest poetry book is Pulp Sonnets (2015). His books of co-translation include Mother Is a Bird: Sonnets by a Yi Poet (2017), River Merchant's Wife by Ming Di (2012), Chinese Erotic Poems (2007), The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry (2005), and Out of the Howling Storm: The New Chinese Poetry (1993). Among his honors are fellowships from the NEA, the NEH, and the California Arts Council. He has won the Grand Prize of the Strokestown International Poetry Festival, the Pushcart Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize, and the John Ciardi Prize.

Wang Hao

Wang Hao 王浩 teaches English at Yunnan University...


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