Calvin Liu is an academic specialising in political theories. He taught in Liverpool John Moores University. He writes poems and plays as a way of dialogue with the formal intellectual life. As a Chinese ethnic he’s been in London for 13 years, living in and through the city transliterally.
Portrait of a Pandemic
It was 8 o’clock in the morning and I woke up in a train station.
I didn’t mean to be there, and I’m still not sure why the hall was partitioned.
Perhaps I wasn’t supposed to go anywhere as I witnessed a sudden death:
A boy was hung where trains were coupled, and his neck was clamped. It ached.
The platform was crowded like a guillotine.
A man with a cheap loudspeaker in his hand was singing,
‘Peace on mothers of the world’,
‘Peace on fathers of the world’.
He had thick lips,
and the boy had no face.
The crowd was growing, as I soon lost sight of the man and the boy.
People photocopied themselves to fill the hall. Police were deployed.
A hoarse spicy voice was yelling: be quick, be quick, and be quick,
I’m in a hurry!
A truck of high school girls were singing A cappella:
‘Peace on mothers’, and ‘peace on fathers’, Ah lalalah.
I don’t know if they were innocent, or indifferent,
until the moment the crowd was all muted with a trench tinkling.
A posh voice ascended,
and it announced amid jelly silence,
‘The singing man has been arrested’, he exclaimed.
The crowd suddenly dissipated, rolling out a wide path to the platform.
A man was taken and tied by the police, deformed,
and he had no face.
© Xin Liu (Calvin Liu)