The Place With Weaker Sunlight

—To Chiayi Historical Prison*


Pek-êng Koa / in translation by C. J. Anderson-Wu





The sun over where you are located is weak

having traded off the sins with dignity of your dwellers

The bright future is a seductive trap

one day after another forms a depressing chain

A group of numbers exchange words with bloodless lips


Fan-shaped cells and corridors

waft out mildew of despair and isolation

quarrels between fetters and ankles are heard 

Under the rusted windows

empty eyes are calculating

the temperature of rotting lives


No matter how sharp a needle of youth is

it fails to stitch up the deteriorating cracks

No matter how fragrant the redwood of the building is

it is unable to cover up the stale odor of dying souls


You often hear

a gecko squeaking from the ceiling

mindlessly shattering the prisoners’ long dreams

Sometimes you see

God Amaterasu-ōkami’s eyes

and from them the tender streams unintentionally drifting


Yes, the bustling ninety years is over now

Indifference slides over the snow in your heart

You no longer feel with what tricks that time has

passed from the morning to the dusk


Yes, aged, so what; dilapidation, so what

Months and years, so what

In silence, you pretend to be unconcerned

retreating under the lazy sun

you practice meditation under the glances of hurrying tourists









*Chiayi Historical Prison was constructed in 1919, by the Japanese colonial government, and inaugurated in 1922.  Ninety years later, its restoration kicked off in December 2009, and was completed in 2011.  It is the Chiayi Prison Museum now.  



Pek-êng Koa is an award-winning poet in Taiwanese language, he also teaches poetry writing in Taiwanese language.  Having been imprisoned for 17 years with two charges of robbery, Koa’s poetry is often about incarceration as he started learning this language and writing with it during his time in prison.  


C. J. Anderson-Wu is a Taiwanese writer.  In 2017 she published Impossible to Swallow—A Collection of Short Stories About The White Terror in Taiwan and in 2021 The Surveillance—Tales of White Terror in Taiwan.  Based on true characters and real incidents, her works look into the political oppression in Taiwanese society during the period of Martial Law (1949-1987), and the traumas resulting from the state’s brutal violation of human rights.  Currently she is working on her third book Endangered Youth— To Hong Kong.  C. J. Anderson-Wu’s Facebook page is /cjandersonwu1



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