Poetry of a Foxconn Suicide Victim

Xu Lizhi threw himself from a Foxconn workers’ dormitory building in Shenzhen on 30 September. He was 24 years old, a migrant worker and a poet: neither line of work looks promising in China at the moment.

Here is some of that poetry he wrote before he committed suicide:

    We ran along the railway,
    arriving in some place called ‘the City’
    where we trade in our youth, and our muscle.
    Finally we have nothing to trade, only a cough
    and a skeleton nobody cares about.
    ‘Sleepless’
    Midnight. Everyone is sleeping soundly,
    We keep our pair of young wounds open.
    These black eyes, can you really lead us to the light?
    ‘Night Shift’

His bitterness is clear in a poem penned in December 2013:

    I swallowed a moon made of iron
    They refer to it as a nail
    I swallowed this industrial sewage, these unemployment documents
    Youth stooped at machines die before their time
    I swallowed the hustle and the destitution
    Swallowed pedestrian bridges, life covered in rust
    I can’t swallow any more
    All that I’ve swallowed is now gushing out of my throat
    Unfurling on the land of my ancestors
    Into a disgraceful poem.
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