OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKen Chau is a poet living in Melbourne, Australia. His poems have been published in Australia, France, Hong Kong, UK and USA, including the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia, ed. Alice Pung (Black Inc., 2008). He was most recently published in The Best Australian Poems 2012, ed. John Tranter (Black Inc., 2012) with his “Chinese Love Poem”.



Chinese Silence No. 101

        after Timothy Yu, “Chinese Silence No. 4”
after Billy Collins, “China”


I am a flattened spider inside a discarded book of Chinese poems
on the drawing board of a curious architect.

Grand designs are being drafted.
Many bottles of champagne await opening day. 

But even when he’s mad
and hurls the book across the room,

I stay as silently still as the dead,
unread words on these pages.



Chinese Silence No. 103

       after Timothy Yu, “Chinese Silence No. 8
after Billy Collins, “Hangover” 

If I were crowned Paramount Leader of China this afternoon
every peasant planting rice in a paddy field
would be re-educated and silenced forever
from uttering the name of Mao Zedong 

Mao Zedong Mao Zedong 

then would not be required to read The Little Red Book
but my My Book of Thoughts
and learn to spell Chairman Mao’s name in English
in my preferred transliteration of 

Mao Tse-tung Mao Tse-tung 

after which they would be quizzed
about the spelling of his name then executed by firing squad
regardless of how little they retained
of their thoughts of how 

Mao Zedong thought Mao Zedong Thought would be thought of.