Happiness Is Very Hard (Is It); Dark Eye Circles; & God Knows Our Secrets, translated from the Taiwanese Mandarin by Nicholas Wong


Happiness Is Very Hard (Is It)

If pain secretly visits and sleeps over
In a zigzagging night 
The body, like a habit-driven curve,
Will become bitter and stiff at the right time
Or it will try to lie flat like a map

Everyone can move on, eyes closed (not saying a word)
Solitude looks for the commanding height of the third castle in a forest
Morality and its reverse refuse to be folded
Happiness is very hard (is it)
The teeth are as stubborn as the weather

A plane hastily crushes the clouds
Feelings gently peel off and become pictograms in private
The spine is an unrehearsed sentence pattern
The ear secretly delivers someone’s echo
And a round of conclusive applause

One, or two kinds of worries have yet been shouted out (say it again)
One, or two kinds of worries have yet been shouted out (say it again)









Translator’s note: A literary editor, a prose writer, and a poet, Sun Tzu-ping (b. 1976) is an important voice in contemporary Taiwanese gay writing. His publications include the essay collection Knowing Shadows (2015), the poetry volume Sentimentalist (2018), and the novel Male Bodies (1998). He currently serves as an editor at the Liberty Times in Taiwan. Sun’s poems often depart from his perception of the mundane in an urban setting and lyrically lure readers with a sense of abandonment and loneliness. The narrative, if present, is absurd and should not be rationalized. His lines address and confront the pleasure and cost of queer desire, before Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage in May 2019. The following poems come from《善遞饅頭》 (Sentimentalist), originally published in Taiwan in 2012. 


“An Act of Inevitable Creation”: Sun Tzu-ping and Nicholas Wong
on Translation, Poetry, and Transgression


Sun Tzu-ping, a literary editor, prose writer, and poet, is the author of the poetry volume Sentimentalist (2018), the essay collection Knowing Shadows (2015), and the novel Male Bodies (1998), all published in Taiwan, where Sun serves as an editor at the Liberty Times.