Sleeves rolled up, squatting in horse stance

Over the chicken tail in my lunch

Ready for the advancing grand army of chopsticks




A pair of antennae stretch out from a cracked corner

to test

the thickness of the iron wall



Lychee Giant Stink Bugs

For three seasons they had been training

to compete with the summer stink of

prisoner souls



撆手ńg   、屈馬步
















Translator's Note

The Taiwanese language, considered as a dialect of Chinese, had been repressed for decades until censorship in Taiwan was completely lifted and nationalism began to be challenged. Through self-education with a Taiwanese-Chinese dictionary he was given during his time in prison, Pek-êng Koa found a new purpose in his life. Bugs in Prison compares lives found in the prison, where as the author once remarked, “Sometimes the value of a prisoner is lower than that of these bugs”.


Bugs in Prison is an excerpt from his collection of poems “Fireflies Within The Walls” (awarded and published by the Dept. of Culture, Tainan City in 2010). Each poem consists of only three short lines. The translation is much longer, but the translator fails to condense the sentences without sacrificing the faithful representation of the atmosphere and circumstances the author created. The discrepancy arises from the author’s unique and unrepeatable style, as well as the differences between the English and Taiwanese.

C. J. Anderson-Wu


In the Classroom