Network Era

a response to Wang Liang’s pair of oils on canvas Network Era – Mask No. 1 and Network Era – Mask No. 2

pages 55 and 56
two faces, one black
lying across from its white doppleganger
— mask and antimask —

each strains
bursting out from a debris-strewn surface
breaking through the entanglement
of cables, wires, and thread

negative image without expression
each hails its own reflection
they face off, one with the other
when the book closes,
a kiss

who knows which it is
— perhaps all three —
they do between the covers
at night when I put them to rest

Shelly Bryant divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a teacher, writer, researcher, and translator. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, Cyborg Chimera and Under the Ash, and a travel guide to the city of Suzhou entitled Suzhou Basics. Her third volume of poetry, Voices of the Elders, and her travel memoir, The End Of The Line, are slated for release in 2012. Her most recent projects include writing an updated guide to the city of Shanghai for Urbanatomy and translating Sheng Keyi’s novel 《北妹》 (Northern Girls) for Penguin Books.

Shelly’s poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites around the world, as well as in several art exhibitions, including dark ’til dawn, Things That Disappear, and Studio White • Exhibition 2011. You can visit her website at

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