This is part of a series I’m working on that looks at the history of aluminum, from its discovery as a metal to its mass production. The poems are connected loosely by their shared themes, but don’t have to be read in any order.

This poem is in imitation of the Shijing, or Classics of Poetry, a collection of Chinese poetry from the 11th to the 7th centuries BC. It’s divided up into sections based on elements of Confucianism. It’s subject is a large aluminum company in China, Shandong Weiqiao Aluminum & Power.

 

Aluminum and Power

 

(Tiān)

 

The industrial park of Shandong Weiqiao

holds up the heavens with columns of concrete.

White clouds unspool from its slender chimneys

like silk upon the spinning wheel of Earth.

 

The industrial park of Shandong Weiqiao

holds up the heavens with columns of concrete.

There are no frogs to be found hopping

in the muddy lake of red tailing.

 

The industrial park of Shandong Weiqiao

is south of Huang He. From the yellow earth

springs green wheat and maize, blue sorghum

and pearl millet, and gray aluminum.

 

(Rén)

 

Our Company is very great.

We employ sixty-five thousand.

We shall grow old together.

White hairs make a man old.

 

Our Company is very great indeed.

There are many invested to our care.

Aluminum and Power, Hongfa Weili,

the equity interests of Zhengtong.

 

Our Company is very great.

We’ve issued 3-year mid-term debentures

to the People, a sign of trust,

worth 1.5 billion Renminbi.

 

(Yì)

 

During the year, in face of strong headwinds,

China Hongqiao still insisted on its

proactive business development strategies

to further enhance production capacity,

which enabled the Group to consolidate

its leading position

in China’s aluminum industry.

 

Looking into the future, the Group will rely

on its advantage, to further solidify

the industrial models, expedite the development

of the industry clusters, enhance its cost advantage

and cost effectiveness, so as to consolidate

its leading position

in China’s aluminum industry.

 

(Lǐ)

 

I came looking for you

in the cafeteria of Yingshun,

but you were lost in a sea of denim

and orange safety hats.

Who will I eat with now,

all of you?

 

I’ve finished this quarter’s

balance sheet statement.

Two columns that do not touch,

but have the same meaning.

I will celebrate

with a nice beer.

 

Pools of shining water

candy bars of aluminum

palette of criss-crossed ingots

a stack weighs 500 kilos.

They fit neatly

on my clipboard.

 

(Zhì)

 

The advantage of steady supply

of raw materials

will be further consolidated

by the Group’s joint venture

in Indonesia.

With a designed annual

production capacity

of one million tons

of alumina, the Group’s

self-supplied ratio will be raised.

 

When Zhuge Liang had to come up with

a hundred thousand arrows

or else Zhou Yu would kill him,

he filled twenty boats with straw men,

and sent them down the river

of the Wu camp, in dense fog.

Sounding the alarm,

he gathered their volleys

in the breasts of straw men.

Work smarter, not harder.

 

(Xìn)

 

For Spring Festival this year

I will visit my relatives

In Jinan, since I’ve promised.

Maybe I’ll stop by Mount Tai

if it is not too crowded.

 

For red mouth this year I had

my fortune told, and she said

I had longing in my heart.

I thought to myself, even

a blind man could have known that.

 

I waited for dawn to break

upon Jade Emperor Peak,

cold and sweating from the climb.

Why do I always feel like

the sunrise is a promise?

 

The blue mountains have sunrise

to look forward to. But me?

Sometimes I can’t remember

why I enjoy holidays,

if I like them more than work.


R. Charboneau

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