Slaughter (Parts 3 & 4)

Written by Liao Yiwu, translated by Michael Day

Translator’s Note:

This version of parts 3 and 4 of the poem was published in Vol. XLII No. 2, 1992 of PEN INTERNATIONAL: Bulletin of Selected Books, London, U.K., pp. 231-233. The Chinese language text can be found in Liao’s e-book The City of Death (死城) also on this site.

Michael M. Day 05/05/2004


LIAO YIWU 廖亦武 <Slaughter> 屠杀

Part III

And another sort of slaughter takes place at Utopia's core

The prime minister catches cold, the people must cough; martial law declared

again and again.

The toothless machinery of the state rolls cowards those who have the courage to

resist the sickness.

Unarmed thugs fall by the thousands; iron-clad professional killers swim in a sea of

blood, set tires beneath tightly closed windows, wipe their army regulation boots

with the skirts of dead maidens. They're incapable of trembling.

These heartless robots are incapable of trembling!

Their electronic brains possess only one programme: an official document full of holes

'In the name of the Fatherland slaughter the constitution!

Replace the constitution, slaughter righteousness!

In the name of mothers throttle children!

In the name of children sodomise fathers!

In the name of wives murder husbands!

In the name of urbanites blow up cities!

Open fire! Fire!

Upon the elderly!

Upon the children!

Open fire on women!

On students. Workers. Teachers.

Open fire on pedlars!

Open Fire! Blast Away!

Take aim on those angry faces.

Horrified faces.

Convulsing faces.

Empty all barrels on despairing and peaceful faces!

Fire away to your heart's content!

These faces char come on like a ride and in the next moment are dead are so


These faces that will he going up to heaven and down to hell are so beautiful!


A beauty chat turns men into strange beasts!

A beauty that lures men on to ravage, vilify, possess, despoil!

Do away with all beauty!

Do away with all flowers!

Forests. Campuses. Love.

Guitars and pure clean air!

Do away with those ideas that enter into error!

Open Fire! Blast away! It feels so good!

Just like smoking a joint.

Going to the toilet.

Back on the base giving the old lady a good fuck!

Open Fire! All barrels! Blast away! Feels good! So good!

Smash open a skull!

Fry the skin on his head to a crisp!

Make the brain gush out.

The soul gush out.

Splash on the overpass. Gatehouse. Railings.

Splash on the road!

Splash towards the sky where they become stars!

Escaped stars!

Stars with two human legs!

Sky and earth have reversed positions.

Mankind wears bright, shining hats.

Bright shining metal helmets.

A troop of soldiers comes charging out of the moon.

Open fire! All barrels! Blast away! It feels so good!

Mankind and stars fall.

Flee together.

Can't make one out from the other.

Chase them up to the clouds!

Chase into the cracks of the earth and into their flesh and waste them!

Blow another hole in the soul!

Blow another hole in the stars!

Souls dressed in red shirts!

Souls with white belts!

Souls wearing running shoes doing gymnastics to radio!

Where can you run to?

We will dig you out of the mud.

Tear you out of the flesh.

Scoop you out of the air and water.

Open fire! Blast away! It feels good! So good!

The slaughter takes place in three worlds.

On the wings of birds.

In the stomachs of fish.

Carry it out in the fine dust

In countless living organisms.

Leap! Howl! Fly! Run!

Freedom feels so good!

Snuffing out freedom feels so good!

Power will be triumphant for ever.

Will be passed down from generation to generation for ever.

Freedom will also come back from the dead.

It will come back to life in generation after generation.

Like that dim light just before the dawn.

No. There's no light.

At Utopia's core there can never be light.

Our hearts are pitch black.

Black and scalding.

Like a corpse incinerator.

A trace of the phantoms of the burned dead.

We will exist.

The government that dominates us will exist.

Daylight comes quickly.

It feels so good.

The butchers are still ranting!

Children. Children your bodies all cold.

Children, your hands grasping stones.

Let's go home.

Brothers and sisters, your shattered bodies littering the earth.

Let's go home.

We walk noiselessly.

Walk three feet above the ground.

All the time forward, there must be a place to rest.

There must be a place where sounds of gunfire and explosions cannot be heard.

We so wish to hide within a stalk of grass.

A leaf.

Uncle. Auntie. Grandpa. Granny. Daddy. Mummy.

How much farther till we're home?

We have no home.

Everyone knows.

Chinese people have no home.

Home is a comforting desire.

Let us die in this desire


Let us die in freedom.

Righteousness. Equality. Universal love.

Peace, in these vague desires.

Stand on the horizon.

Attract more of the living to death!

It rains.

Don't know if it is rain or transparent ashes.

Run quickly, Mummy!

Run quickly, son!

Run quickly, elder brother!

Run quickly, little brother!

The butchers will not let up.

An even more terrifying day is approaching.


Part IV

Cry Cry Cry Crycrycrycrycrycrycry

While you still have not been surrounded and annihilated, while you still have

strength left to suck milk, crycrycry.

Let your sobs cast you off, fuse into radio, television, radar, give repeated testimony of the slaughter

Let your sobs cast you off, fuse into plant life, semi-vegetable life and micro-organisms, blossom into flower after flower, year after year mourning the dead, mourning yourself.

Let your sobs be distorted, twisted, be annihilated by the tumult of sacrosanct battle.

The butchers come from the east of the city, from the west of the city, from the south and north of the city.

Metal helmets glint in the light. They're singing ...

Putrid, sweltering summer, people and ghosts sing...

Don't go to the east, don't go to the west, don't go to the south and north.

We stand in the midst of brilliance but all people are blind

We stand on a great road but no-one is able to walk

We stand in the midst of a cacophony but all are mute

We stand in the midst of heat and thirst but all refuse to drink

People with no understanding of the times, people in the midst of calamity, people who plot to shoot down the sun.

You can only cry, you're still crying, crycrycrycrycrycrycrycrycry! CRYCRY! CRY!

You've been smothered to death, baked to death, your whole body is on fire!

And yet you are crying.

You get up on the stage and act out a farce, you're paraded before the crowds in the

streets, and yet you're crying.

Your eyeballs explode, scald the surrounding crowd, and yet you're crying.

You offer a bounty on yourself, find out yourself, you say you were mistaken, this accursed epoch is all wrong!

And yet you're crying.

You are stamped into meat pie, you cry

From meat pie you're trampled into meat, you cry.

A dog licks up the minced meat, you cry inside a dog's belly!


In this historically unprecedented slaughter only the spawn of dogs can survive.