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jinjin xu

you still have something of the ghost about you

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rancid, familiar

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You Still Have Something of The Ghost About You:
video, color, 5:07
Journey to the West, Wu Cheng-en, trans. WJF Jenner
A Chinese Beastiary, Anonymous, trans. Richard E. Strassberg
The Aenid, Virgil, trans. John Dryden
Inferno, Dante Alighieri, trans. Rev. H. F. Cary
Dreams of a Red Chamber, Cao Xue Qing, trans. H Bencraft Joly
Baidu encyclopedia definition: Meng Po’s Soup
X, John Cage

Rancid, Familiar
video, color, 3:55
Inspired by a story by Alicia López

You still have something of the ghost about you



        There is no boat to ferry you     


I not remember     that e'er I was estrang'd

      from thee.    


 All who appear are sinful ghosts

    bare feet     matted hair.


The bridge      many miles long

and only three      fingers wide.


Below        a pond

                          the water parched

mud   dry         lotus flowers   decayed

                                                      even the roots   dead.


Ill-fated   lives       

                       plunged in. 

                              Girls singing    their obedience     
                           lightly thrumming
                                                                      the virginals.

But none of them

none              who have passed away

who have not as yet        come into it

                         at the time of the opening


                         of the heavens  and the laying

                                            of black clouds     and turbid mists


            none                           of the ghosts can be seen.



                                     And you

            with your mortal eyes  

                    and violent flirtation              


 could not possibly be allowed

       to know    your bitter fate.


Above              no railings for support.


Watch      how the souls      throng

In Lethe's lake they long oblivion taste,


it's like nothing on earth      i feel as i did

                                                            before beComing a ghost


             You are waiting with the soup of forgetfulness:

            a bowl of river water

            two daylilies to erase misery

            three fragrant roses


Of future life secure, forgetful           of the past 


mouth to mouth       another recipe:


                        one    raw tear   of plums


two      pearls   drooping


three      bitter     elastic steps


four      bridal pillows    penetrated


five     brewed in the night dew


six         anchors of thunder


seven      secret feelings  of a child


last        gather your own tears


eight bitternesses mixed together        useless grief



i havE no regrets

i weLcome whatever happens next

Rancid, Familiar



My father is always looking for his dead mother in me.




Your Father Is Smiling Now That You Are Home, my mother says, pulling back the curtains. He Was Up All Night Waiting For You.


I find him downstairs, peeling a steaming black tea-egg. I look at his face.


How familiar, the outline of my nose.




The Man I Sometimes Say the Forbidden Word To asks me to imagine him as my final lover.


I Cannot Imagine A Future, I tell him. I do not tell my mother, my father about him. He is my secret. It rots between the two of us.


One day he writes, You’re not ready.




Your Father Doesn’t Want Your Name On The Lease, My mother says, He thinks you will betray him.


All around us, mother are succumbing to breast cancer, fathers to secretaries.


Men Are Like That, I say.


What Do You Know About Men? My mother says.





At five years old, I see the image of my father in the shower.


I See You! I screech from the bathroom door. I See You I See You I See You I See You I See You!


He splashes water at the door.


His body, forbidden.




My mother says, Your Father Loves You Too Much. You Have Been Spoiled Rotten.


溺爱, We Are Loving You Until You Drown.


We Are Drowning You.





Every day before going for our afternoon walk, my father and mother and I pee into the same toilet, to save water, flush in one go at the end. I am dissolving into them.


The smell, rancid and familiar.