Because of the approaching departure,
I came to Wenyu River again.
The willows     still on the breakwater
change only their outfits in North winds.

The river’s quiet.
It’s cold at the end of the year.     The twilight
hazes with smoke.     We all tasted hustle and bustle.
How many people in how many years
travel alongside rivers to places far from home,     anxious
to run out of their shells?

The water keeps running.
The land’s fragile.     Water’s impermanent.
All homes and countries can empty
when rivers carry people away     depositing
stones on weeds.

On the rocky beach     an egret
takes away what it left behind this year.
It’ll fly south.
Tomorrow     I’ll go back to Shangzhou,
visiting those whose graves are covered by grass.






防波堤上 杨柳依旧

天寒岁晚 它的暮色
朦胧着烟气 我们都遍尝烟火
多少年里 有多少人
沿着河流去往他乡 因为走得太疾

江山易破 流水无常
河水运走人烟 只将

乱石滩头 白鹭
明天 我将回到商州





Nianxi Chen, born 1970 in Northern China, began writing poems in 1990. In 1999, he left his hometown and labored as a miner for 16 years. In 2015, he couldn’t continue work due to occupational disease. In 2016, he was awarded the Laureate Worker Poet Prize. His rise to fame as a “migrant worker poet” was featured in a 2021 New York Times Article. Chen’s poetry collection Records of Explosion provides lyrical documentation of the hidden costs behind China’s financial boom. Chen’s poems in translation have appeared in Rattle and are forthcoming in Plume.

Melia Cahnmann-Taylor, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia, is the author of five books in education, poetry, and the arts. She is the author of a book of poems, Imperfect Tense (2016), and four other books on the arts of language and education: Enlivening Instruction with Drama and Improv (2021), Teachers Act Up: Creating Multicultural Community Through Theatre (2010), and Arts-Based Research in Education. She recently completed a sixth book entitled The Creative Ethnographer’s Notebook, a creative writing guide for anthropology students to be released by Routledge in 2024.

Kuo Zhang is a faculty member in Teacher Education at the University of Vermont and received her PhD in TESOL & World Language Education at the University of Georgia. Her poem “One Child Policy” was awarded second place in the 2012 Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) Poetry Competition held by the American Anthropological Association. Her poems have appeared in The Roadrunner Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Literary Mama, MUTHA Magazine, Journal of Language and Literacy Education, and Anthropology and Humanism.

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