The poetry of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014)

Xu_lizhi_1-4b8e5a49299356e753ac568ccd377d26-

Xu Lizhi was a worker at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen who commited suicide in 2014. A prolific writer and contributor to the Foxconn workers' internal newspaper, Xu casts a light on the daily struggles faced by Chinese migrant workers through his incredible poetry.

The poems, translated by Nao and originally hosted on Libcom, are republished here as part of our week focusing on China on the Verso blog. To read more of Xu Lizhi's poetry in English translation, visit the China Labour Bulletin website.


《我弥留之际》

“On My Deathbed”

我想再看一眼大海,目睹我半生的泪水有多汪洋
I want to take another look at the ocean, behold the vastness of tears from half a lifetime

我想再爬一爬高高的山头,试着把丢失的灵魂喊回来
I want to climb another mountain, try to call back the soul that I’ve lost

我还想摸一摸天空,碰一碰那抹轻轻的蓝
I want to touch the sky, feel that blueness so light

可是这些我都办不到了,我就要离开这个世界了
But I can’t do any of this, so I’m leaving this world

所有听说过我的人们啊
Everyone who’s heard of me

不必为我的离开感到惊讶
Shouldn’t be surprised at my leaving

更不必叹息,或者悲伤
Even less should you sigh or grieve

我来时很好,去时,也很好
I was fine when I came, and fine when I left.

-- Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014


《冲突》

"Conflict"

他们都说
They all say

我是个话很少的孩子
I'm a child of few words

对此我并不否认
This I don't deny

实际上
But actually

我说与不说
Whether I speak or not

都会跟这个社会
With this society I'll still

发生冲突
Conflict

-- 7 June 2013


《我就那样站着入睡》
"I Fall Asleep, Just Standing Like That"

眼前的纸张微微发黄
The paper before my eyes fades yellow

我用钢笔在上面凿下深浅不一的黑
With a steel pen I chisel on it uneven black

里面盛满打工的词汇
Full of working words

车间,流水线,机台,上岗证,加班,薪水……
Workshop, assembly line, machine, work card, overtime, wages...

我被它们治得服服贴贴
They've trained me to become docile

我不会呐喊,不会反抗
Don't know how to shout or rebel

不会控诉,不会埋怨
How to complain or denounce

只默默地承受着疲惫
Only how to silently suffer exhaustion

驻足时光之初
When I first set foot in this place

我只盼望每月十号那张灰色的薪资单
I hoped only for that grey pay slip on the tenth of each month

赐我以迟到的安慰
To grant me some belated solace

为此我必须磨去棱角,磨去语言
For this I had to grind away my corners, grind away my words

拒绝旷工,拒绝病假,拒绝事假
Refuse to skip work, refuse sick leave, refuse leave for private reasons

拒绝迟到,拒绝早退
Refuse to be late, refuse to leave early

流水线旁我站立如铁,双手如飞
By the assembly line I stood straight like iron, hands like flight,

多少白天,多少黑夜
How many days, how many nights

我就那样,站着入睡
Did I - just like that - standing fall asleep?

-- 20 August 2011


《一颗螺丝掉在地上》
"A Screw Fell to the Ground"

一颗螺丝掉在地上
A screw fell to the ground

在这个加班的夜晚
In this dark night of overtime

垂直降落,轻轻一响
Plunging vertically, lightly clinking

不会引起任何人的注意
It won’t attract anyone’s attention

就像在此之前
Just like last time

某个相同的夜晚
On a night like this

有个人掉在地上
When someone plunged to the ground

-- 9 January 2014


《谶言一种》
"A Kind of Prophecy"

村里的老人都说
Village elders say

我跟我爷爷年轻时很像
I resemble my grandfather in his youth

刚开始我不以为然
I didn’t recognize it

后来经他们一再提起
But listening to them time and again

我就深信不疑了
Won me over

我跟我爷爷
My grandfather and I share

不仅外貌越看越像
Facial expressions

就连脾性和爱好
Temperaments, hobbies

也像同一个娘胎里出来的
Almost as if we came from the same womb

比如我爷爷外号竹竿
They nicknamed him “bamboo pole”

我外号衣架
And me, “clothes hanger”

我爷爷经常忍气吞声
He often swallowed his feelings

我经常唯唯诺诺
I'm often obsequious

我爷爷喜欢猜谜
He liked guessing riddles

我喜欢预言
I like premonitions

1943年秋,鬼子进
In the autumn of 1943, the Japanese devils invaded

我爷爷被活活烧死
and burned my grandfather alive

享年23岁
at the age of 23.

我今年23岁
This year i turn 23.

-- 18 June 2013


《最后的墓地》
"The Last Graveyard"

机台的鸣叫也打着瞌睡
Even the machine is nodding off

密封的车间贮藏疾病的铁
Sealed workshops store diseased iron

薪资隐藏在窗帘后面
Wages concealed behind curtains

仿似年轻打工者深埋于心底的爱情
Like the love that young workers bury at the bottom of their hearts

没有时间开口,情感徒留灰尘
With no time for expression, emotion crumbles into dust

他们有着铁打的胃
They have stomachs forged of iron

盛满浓稠的硫酸,硝酸
Full of thick acid, sulfuric and nitric

工业向他们收缴来不及流出的泪
Industry captures their tears before they have the chance to fall

时辰走过,他们清醒全无
Time flows by, their heads lost in fog

产量压低了年龄,疼痛在日夜加班
Output weighs down their age, pain works overtime day and night

还未老去的头晕潜伏生命
In their lives, dizziness before their time is latent

皮肤被治具强迫褪去
The jig forces the skin to peel

顺手镀上一层铝合金
And while it's at it, plates on a layer of aluminum alloy

有人还在坚持着,有人含病离去
Some still endure, while others are taken by illness

我在他们中间打盹,留守青春的
I am dozing between them, guarding

最后一块墓地
The last graveyard of our youth.

-- 21 December 2011


《我一生中的路还远远没有走完》
"My Life’s Journey is Still Far from Complete"

这是谁都没有料到的
This is something no one expected

我一生中的路
My life’s journey

还远远没有走完
Is far from over

就要倒在半路上了
But now it's stalled at the halfway mark

类似的困境
It’s not as if similar difficulties

以前也不是没有
Didn’t exist before

只是都不像这次
But they didn’t come

来得这么突然
As suddenly

这么凶猛
As ferociously

一再地挣扎
Repeatedly struggle

竟全是徒劳
But all is futile

我比谁都渴望站起来
I want to stand up more than anyone else

可是我的腿不答应
But my legs won’t cooperate

我的胃不答应
My stomach won’t cooperate

我全身的骨头都不答应
All the bones of my body won’t cooperate

我只能这样平躺着
I can only lie flat

在黑暗里一次次地发出
In this darkness, sending out

无声的求救信号
A silent distress signal, again and again

再一次次地听到
Only to hear, again and again

绝望的回响
The echo of desperation.

-- 13 July 2014


《我咽下一枚铁做的月亮》
"I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron"

我咽下一枚铁做的月亮
I swallowed a moon made of iron

他们把它叫做螺丝
They refer to it as a nail

我咽下这工业的废水,失业的订单
I swallowed this industrial sewage, these unemployment documents

那些低于机台的青春早早夭亡
Youth stooped at machines die before their time

我咽下奔波,咽下流离失所
I swallowed the hustle and the destitution

咽下人行天桥,咽下长满水锈的生活
Swallowed pedestrian bridges, life covered in rust

我再咽不下了
I can't swallow any more

所有我曾经咽下的现在都从喉咙汹涌而出
All that I've swallowed is now gushing out of my throat

在祖国的领土上铺成一首
Unfurling on the land of my ancestors

耻辱的诗
Into a disgraceful poem.

-- 19 December 2013


《出租屋》
"Rented Room"

十平米左右的空间
A space of ten square meters

局促,潮湿,终年不见天日
Cramped and damp, no sunlight all year

我在这里吃饭,睡觉,拉屎,思考
Here I eat, sleep, shit, and think

咳嗽,偏头痛,生老,病不死
Cough, get headaches, grow old, get sick but still fail to die

昏黄的灯光下我一再发呆,傻笑
Under the dull yellow light again I stare blankly, chuckling like an idiot

来回踱步,低声唱歌,阅读,写诗
I pace back and forth, singing softly, reading, writing poems

每当我打开窗户或者柴门
Every time I open the window or the wicker gate

我都像一位死者
I seem like a dead man

把棺材盖,缓缓推开
Slowly pushing open the lid of a coffin.

-- 2 December 2013


《惊闻90后青工诗人许立志坠楼有感》
"Upon Hearing the News of Xu Lizhi's Suicide"
by Zhou Qizao (周启早), a fellow worker at Foxconn

每一个生命的消失
The loss of every life

都是另一个我的离去
Is the passing of another me

又一枚螺丝松动
Another screw comes loose

又一位打工兄弟坠楼
Another migrant worker brother jumps

你替我死去
You die in place of me

我替你继续写诗
And I keep writing in place of you

顺便拧紧螺丝
While I do so, screwing the screws tighter

今天是祖国六十五岁的生日
Today is our nation's sixty-fifth birthday

举国欢庆
We wish the country joyous celebrations

二十四岁的你立在灰色的镜框里微微含笑
A twenty-four-year-old you stands in the grey picture frame, smiling ever so slightly

秋风秋雨
Autumn winds and autumn rain

白发苍苍的父亲捧着你黑色的骨灰盒趔趄还乡
A white-haired father, holding the black urn with your ashes, stumbles home.

-- 1 October 2014

Related Books

9781781680902_scattered_sand
Paperback +
Free bundled ebook
$19.95 $9.98 50% off