Writers in China

A poem by Anthony Tao

Fling a bottle any direction

and likely you’ll hit a writer

who thanks you

for the drink.


Archivist of residuum 

and flumadiddle,

quidnunc of 

the inconsequential,


tapping into Evernote

words of cabbies

as in cantos,

The China Experience.


How we hope

our lives are more

than the hottest pub or club,

contours of new beds,


or whispers of sex

in a UNIQLO fitting room,

keeping silent when another asks,

Who hasn’t?


Who amongst us

would not write our destruction

if it meant, between self-

published covers,


we could be cavalier

streaking down the day

with first-world swagger,

our sense of the just


hot in our judgmental hearts?

Look at those self-flagellating diarists

grinning uneasily into the crowd

at open mics:


Do they write for themselves or us?

Perhaps you know, sitting there.

How lonely the hours can be, even here,

when you’re looking into no mirror.

Anthony Tao lives in Beijing, where he edits the blog Beijing Cream and coordinates the Bookworm Literary Festival. His poetry has appeared in various journals