translated by Xi Nan

Moving backwards from 10
Omit 0
Begin directly from 1
Must go for a zigzag
To arrive at 2
And go for another zigzag
To arrive at 3
For the sake of convenience
Can take the shortcut—
From the opposite direction
To repeat the entire action process of 3
And quickly arrive at 8
8 contains too many metaphors*
Must be canceled ASAP
To reflect the efficiency
Just ignore 9
Or even turning 9 counterclockwise 180 degrees
To get 6
Actually 9 and 6
Are a same figure in two different postures
Separated by 7 and 8
So that a distance is produced
Antagonism is formed
But looking at them from another angle and direction
They are essentially 2 in 1
According to the principle of fairness:
To divide 10 into 2 equal parts
It is then 5 for each 1 part
But 5 is not the middle point of 1-10
Therefore 5 can’t be seen as some certain standard
It is just a factor that
Hinders 4 from moving further forward
And breaks the complementary combination of 6 and 4
Meanwhile regardless that 3 times 7 equals 21**
5 also indirectly influences other figures
According to the algorithm
5 can plus 5
To arrive at the perfect standard: 10
Vice versa
5 can also cancel 5
To make it useless
Arrive at 0
But 0—
We can’t say it’s completely meaningless


* The number 8 is often seen as having metaphorical meanings in Chinese culture; for example, because of its similar pronunciation to “getting rich” (发), 8 is believed to be a good sign of wealth under certain circumstances.

** In Chinese, “regardless that 3 times 7 equals 21” (不管三七二十一) is a common saying, meaning regardless of everything, regardless of right or wrong.

About the Translator

Xi Nan (Nancy) (西楠) was born in China, writes and translates, indie publisher, author of different genres. Her latest translation work: 207th Bone (authored by Zhou Li, published by Simi Press). Her Twitter is here.


This is an excerpt from Cai Gentan’s new poetry chapbook, Broken Uterus. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.