A Purple Purse

Lovers are practicing romance,
Families are repeating intimacy,
Kids are decorating their fancies.
Such a laborious day.

A sullen creature stands out
amid the transparent windows
filled in the outlet,
on a Labor Day.

“I’m a parcel from the sea
of garbage,” it says.
This leathered, purple purse stuns me.

“Oh, hey, how are you?” I ask.
“I’m fine. I was shipped by the west wind,” it shrugs.
“Oh, I’ve read that in many poems.”
Its stare grips me.
Solid bulky impervious

“Are you here alone?”
“No, whatever you see here is my companion,
I have billions out there in the sea.”
I feel like an alien.

“You’re still in good shape!”
“I’ve never been used.”
Its melancholy voice makes me shiver.

“You see, I just bought a purple purse.”
I take it out,
“That was me,” it says.

The wind almost blows it away. I scurry around
the diaphanous halls. My purse flies out
of the plastic bag alongside thousands of white bubbles
up in the air. It’s the sea.
Immensely full. Drained blue sheets.
The purple thing is wrapped
and tucked in the white swirl.

An abyss of labor.
An abyss of desire.


Dear Self

A squirrel ran into me before dawn, with an
earthly breath, drifting like a zombie.

A gory body lying along the driveway,
fresh corpse, sleeping human
hasn’t woken up.

I marched six hours,
on a snowy night.
I came to visit you,
my dear self.

I got prepared last night:
with a mirror in my hand,
combing my fiery hair.
You can recognize me
without any trouble, I think.

You told me a fairy tale story
that happened in an orchard.
I guess you want to move there,
the fruits make you delightful.

You also told me
there are thousands of you
beneath you,
in the bottom of the hole.
I would come to visit
every one of you
until when?
I don’t know.

You started throwing your stories to me,
I almost fell asleep.
I’m sorry, human body makes me
feel tired. You laughed at me
and indulged in story-telling.

I looked at my watch: we’re running out
of time.

I get up and eat breakfast.


Some People

Some people died for an old man
they’d never seen. Nineteen-twenty-one,
a bright time for flies. My grandpa regrets,
everyone was born late.

Some people died for an old man
they’d never read. Nineteen-sixty-eight,
he resurrected like a phantom for being beaten down
as if he was real. Grandpa recalls,
his hero was waving hands
to the unborn.

Some people die for an old man
they see every day on TV. Twenty-twelve,
because the time is too new
to be stale. Everyone starts to abandon
one man as they pick up the other. The men assured
you would never feel confused. So,
does the man. Grandpa says
it’s the best time he’s ever had,
and everyone,
everyone was born too early.


Xiaoli Yang

Xiaoli Yang

Xiaoli Yang is currently working on a doctorate in comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. She reads French and Italian fluently. She was brought up in Chongqing, China and has been a Chinese teacher in the Confucius Institute at the University of Bologna, Italy. She is doing research on early Chinese cinema and documentaries.