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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Aiden Heung

Somewhere, Elsewhere

Nothing changed much in the village,

though each new year brought in new waves

of birds that flew past the old stupa,

whose gilded gold had begun to peel.

Where the river bent towards the ravine,

a bridge, suspended like silence

at a grave conversation.

Some nights, when the last lamp

was killed, the unpredictable moon

betrayed some white, and some grey

owls hooted; afterwards everything paled,

like dust on paper.

I was elsewhere, far

from the plateau; I couldn’t tell

why these mountains had looped

to cut me off. That night I closed my eyes,

imagining a highland night above this city,

until the first sunlight fell

punctually to the boom of my clock,

and I woke up, and I woke up

lost for what I had given up.

Warmth of This World

My grandpa sprinkled water on the road

from which dust blew into the village,

like locusts chasing invisible tissues

of plants; It was a summer day, air

sunk its teeth into his face which turned

red, then swarthy, like fertile soil,

like fertile soil we took for granted

at each harvest season.

I clung to the door and watched a rainbow

burnt onto the water curtain at his sprinkler

as the sun swam past our roof.

I was eager to grow up, to be like him,

to conjure seven colors with bare hands;

I didn’t know there were things better

to stay in time, un-policed by memory.

But I’m not a hierophant to the past,

I can’t look into my face and imagine

the lost, fierce as love but heavier,

registered in every cell of my body,

like this world receding into winter,

leaving a handful of warmth on my skin.


Aiden Heung (he/they) is a Chinese poet born in a Tibetan Autonomous Town, currently living in Shanghai. He holds an MA from Tongji University. His words appeared or are forthcoming in The Australian Poetry Journal, The Missouri Review, New York Quarterly, Poet Lore, Parentheses, and The Columbia Journal, among other places.

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