Serial Poems: 1303 [excerpt] – Xi Nan

In 2018, summer, I temporarily stayed in a city in northern China for a while. The apartment’s door number I stayed in was, 1303.


1 · Apartment


This is the 18th day I stay in 1303

I’ve already stayed in turn

Room 4, 2 and 3

Room 4 is relatively small

Might be the original second bedroom of the apartment

There is a small bay window

Hanging emerald curtains

Emerald color reminds me of summer

(It is now summer)

Room 2 seems to be the original master bedroom

There is a south-facing balcony

French windows

Plenty of sunshine

The air conditioner in Room 2 functions exceptionally well

Sometimes I feel cold during (summer) nights 

And now

Now I am staying in Room 3

It should have been converted from the previous living room

There is a Turkey red two-seater sofa

Facing the double bed

Like passionate love

On the opposite right wall

Hangs The Starry Night by Van Gogh

Obviously an imitation

But I don’t care

I have to say

This room is kind of


Kind of making people

Inexplicably long for something

Sometimes I walk to the balcony

(An interconnecting long balcony

For Room 3 and 2)

Just to feel the temperature of the sunlight

For a while

At here I can hear

Traffic noises downstairs

Can see opposite – 

Those building-groups in square shapes

And on the road

Pedestrians coming and going

At this time, if from Room 2 the

Miss Lonely

Also walks onto the Room 2 balcony

I would quickly return to my room

And close the French windows

Of Room 3 



 2 · Tenants


 When I was staying in Room 4

There was in Room 1

A thin and tall college girl

(Very thin and tall)

Once menstrual bloodstains

Were left on the toilet seat she had used

Another time she threw white gym shoes

Into the barrel washing machine for cleaning


Later I moved into Room 2

Then a lonely-looking young woman

Moved into Room 4

This thirty something

Ordinary-appearance woman

Every day wore a pink strap-shoulder 

Low-cut silk nightdress

Switched on loud TV sound

(I further thought she was lonely)

Once I was making instant noodles in the kitchen

She purposely came out 

Rolling her eyes and fanning the wind

‘Where comes this smell?’

She immediately opened the front door for ventilation

With a disgusted look on her face

Another few times I

Was bathing

With both shower and lights fully on

She slapped the toilet door hard

Asking if anyone was in

She said the apartment she bought

Located just upstairs same building

Only because of loneliness

(Even herself admitted it)

She moved here to stay for a few days

(Now she is staying in Room 2)


When I moved into Room 3

Several young people came to the apartment

They talked loudly

Always excited

One of them

Once knocked on my room door

‘Sister, you eat the watermelon!’

That was a chubby youth

I had not yet identified his / her gender

He / she had already left

I bit into the watermelon just delivered

Not exactly fresh 



3 · In The World


20:37 last night

I sat in Room 2 of 1303

(That is the original master bedroom of the apartment)

I sat opposite the double bed

By the desk

Sideways to the desk

Facing the balcony

The glass doors of the balcony was opened

That was my first time in the recent days

Opened the glass doors

Then I saw the opposite

On the tall residential building read

Bai x Homes

To the right of it was a

Low and square building

Only three words 

‘Eastern District Children…’ could be seen

The words followed were obstructed by

More other buildings

But I somehow thought it should be

Eastern District Children’s Hospital

And between the Bai x Homes and the Eastern District Children

There was the Guiyang rice noodles restaurant

Which I had been to twice

Their rice noodles were spicy and salty

For two Rmb

To add a portion of hot greens

Or for three 

To add a spiced corned egg

I had turned off the air conditioner

This was my first time in a few days

Turned off the air conditioner and pushed open

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows

Those neon lights

Slight but long-lasting traffic sounds

And an indescribable

Urban smell

Rushed into the room all at once

The night of the city

Rushed into my room



4 · Earthquake


One o’clock in the morning, I suddenly felt

My body was slightly and densely shaking

First reaction:

The city is experiencing an earthquake


Just past two o’clock, in the ears

Sound waves came one after another from far to near

I jumped out of the bed

Standing unsteadily

Dizzy in the head

To rapidly check the Seismic Network

There is a little red dot on the map

Flashing, terrifying

That is faraway


People there right now

Are undergoing a magnitude 3.9 earthquake

Well then, here, in this city

What has just happened?

I stand in front of the window

It has turned three o’clock 

From outside the window

Don’t know exactly where

Pours in pale blue light

I don’t hear any 

Sharp and hasty sirens



5 · Alone


Get up alone

Smoke a cigarette

Open the curtains

Walk alone

On the way to the breakfast store

When passing by the road turning

To look into the sky –

Like every morning of

This summer

Purchase coffee

Return from the same way

Back to the room

Sit in front of the laptop

To view today’s

To-do list

Ordered with a mobile APP

Medicine for common cold

And my lunch 

They are both here now

Eat alone the lunch

Then the medicine

Continue after siesta

To work on the laptop

Then it goes dark

Finished talking with my lover on the phone

I go downstairs for a walk

It is almost 10pm

On the inner ring highway

Traffic is still busy

Sometimes young people talking and laughing

Pass me

Purchased fruit and drinking water

The summer night makes me sweat

Take a shower when back to the room

Schedule tomorrow




6 · Sky


Stood on the sidewalk downstairs this morning

When taking photos of the sky

A man stood beside me who wore a formal suit and a tie 

Glanced at me

Then glanced at the sky 

He found out nothing

He looked confused

When I returned with my coffee purchased

That man was still standing in the same place

The sky was still the same look

Very very light blue

Close to pale

And in other places

Maybe Hangzhou, or Luoyang

Today the sky is bright

Clouds are very white



7 · Grey Morning


The morning of 24th July is grey

I’m not just talking about the color of the curtains

Only a thin layer of light

Spreads on the wall

One black small bug

Comes from nowhere

Now it’s in front of me

Flying around

Flying nonstop

It is raining outside

Making crackling sounds

Seemed to be raining from last night

Mobile app started to remind from yesterday

People here were facing ‘typhoon rain’

Rainstorms were coming in some areas

And this morning

About half an hour 

After I got up

The rain turns lighter

I go out with an umbrella

When locking the door I hear in the earbuds 

Long and low cello

Outdoor: dimmed sky 

Humid air

I step on the rainy floor in a pair of slippers

Drizzle sometimes drifts towards the chest

This probably means

I’m walking in the upwind direction