Thinking through Sand Fields (Sha Tin 沙田)

DSCN0567_Tuen Mun Playground RESIZED_4 APR 2016

To stand in a black and white skirt stock-still against peak-hour’s
turbulent backdrop ―
oblivious of gold shoe-buckles,
of the weight of a bag
slung across the collar-bone dip in one dropped shoulder ―
and to wonder down the whole length of the station platform
further than you can possibly go
because no one else in the world will assist you with this train.
Sometimes ― hectic out of nowhere ―
thought is that hyper-animated insect buzzing at the top of its noise
inside your unfathomable head,
as if insight desperately despite you
demanded prompt payment from attention
even here in public broad daylight,
opposite carriage-loads of cattle-car commuters,
hell-bent too in their worldly mental chatter
on the next ― quite outwardly ― new idea.

My Thor

2018-11-27 Sou Kwun Wat TH RESIZED

I can’t help wanting to give a voice to the thunder —
there is so much more to it than meets the ear —
an authority at odds with “lightning discharge”
and “a large over-pressure of the air”.
It has its own poetry —
thunder’s actual meaning is always on the underside
and overside
of everything it says —
with too much happening at once
for the narrow literal sense
to maintain its dominant sway for long.
Such resonance. Such conviction. Imagine
a human being talking like that, not an atom
of vocal energy suppressed
in the direct act of utterance:
total candour commandingly declared!
The skin tingles in the presence of such force.
Bones rattle vibrantly in their skeleton.
And what about the heart?
From the sludge of exaggerated swamps it is shocked
and, like the rainbow-eyed frog
freshly opened to the storm,
jumps rudely aliver all of a sudden out of its dank and improper element.

 

Photograph: 香港掃管笏天后古廟 Tin Hou Temple, So Kwun Wat, Hong Kong

香港加油!

Jennifer Creery_Occupation of Sha Tin New Town Plaza_Monday 5 AUG 2019

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攝影:Jennifer Creery

The Pre-enactment of Rain is Not True Rain

Evette KWOK_Bus Shelter in Rain TWO_30 AUG 2018

“What is the poet in Australia to do? He must learn how to make it rain in words.”
— Robert Wood, History & the Poet

Try fixing the boundary between forerain
and rain . . . Forerain errs forever
on the side of the individual, each drop
having a whole vertical cubicle of atmosphere
to itself.
In this it shows, liquidly conspicuous,
but never showers, a doomed, one-hand clapping rain
that peters out for want of symphony.
True rain is orchestral:
it is — by instinct and by definition — a drenching mass noun.
Every article in a downpour performs
to the echoing chorus of its sisters.
There are no distinct palm-beats in a sea of applause:
the Supreme Admiral Pattern
enjoys self-evident precedence over all
that is not it — assertion, confidence, nerve —
and, when the rain rains off,
a wide hush like dust
endorses the world’s choice.

Photograph: Evette Kwok

The First Emperor of China on His Deathbed

Tin Hau Temple_Tung Ping Chau

I sensed death watching me that day.

My mind was a microcosm of the new order:
confidence in human powers,
overestimation.
When a storm of wind
delayed my imperial progress across a mountain,
my displeasure found expression
in all too mortal fury:
I ordered 3000 convicts,
slaves to my every edict,
to denude the hill of all its trees
and to paint it red (red: the colour
it pleased me to dress
the criminal and the condemned in).

Dying two years later, in delirium,
I was tortured by recurring visions
of tender spring green,
of precisely the immortality
I had tried to put to the axe that day.

I felt death touch me.

 

Photograph: Tin Hau Temple, Tung Ping Chau, Hong Kong

Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong’s Latest Number One Scholars

Capture_Outstanding Students_10 JUL 2019

In the book Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong, Edward Stokes writes “Old rural virtues — self-reliance, hardiness, and an abiding respect for learning . . . — characterized the countryside” and these same virtues continue to inspire the extensive media coverage given on a regular basis to the results of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, as well as those 狀元 johng6 yùhn4 or “Number One Scholars” who manage to achieve outstanding results. This report by TVB’s 陳逸思 Chàhn4 Yaht6 Sī1 is also interesting for its frequent use of the modal verb 會 wúih5, in addition to the solid array of educational terms. I find it intriguing that Hong Kong’s most intelligent students are all keen to become doctors: perhaps these are the people who might be able to provide a solution to Hong Kong’s current difficulties . . .

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

12 new words:

文憑試 màhn4 pàhng4 si3 = 香港中學文憑考試 or Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE)
放榜 fong3 bóng2 = publish the results; publish a list of successful candidates/applicants
佳績 gāai1 jīk1 = good result; success
修讀 sāu1 duhk6 = to study (at university level); to do further study
養育 yéuhng5 yuhk6 = to bring up (a child)
摘星嘅決心 jaahk6 sīng1 ge3 kyut3 sām1 = the determination to reach for the stars
狀元 johng6 yùhn4 = Number One Scholar
屬意 suhk6 yi3 = to fix one’s mind on; to have one’s heart set on
立志 lahp6 ji3 = to resolve; to be determined
劍橋大學 gim3 kìuh4 daaih6 hohk6 = Cambridge University
固有 gu3 yáuh5 = usu. intrinsic; inherent; innate; in this context = “fixed” (?)
熱誠 yiht6 sìhng4 = sincere; sincerity

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

(Introduction)

中學文憑試放榜。
The results of the HKDSE have been published.

十二個人至少考獲七科5**,嚟自九間學校。
Twelve people, from nine [different] schools, obtained [a grade of] Level 5** in at least seven subjects.

其中觀塘瑪利諾書院同聖馬可中學首次有學生考到呢個佳績。
Of these, a student from the Kwun Tong Maryknoll College and a student from St Mark’s School obtained this excellent result for the first time ever.

而大部份會修讀醫科。
The majority of them will study [修讀] medicine.
Note: Here, 會 wúih5 is a modal indicating high likelihood: the students will definitely do this.

Continue reading “Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong’s Latest Number One Scholars”

What She Wielded . .

Fan Leng Temple Image with Bell

It had its own special niche in the tool shed.

She kept a ribbon
tied to its shaft and, sometimes,
together we changed that ribbon for freshness.
It was regularly sharpened
in a shower of orange sparks I was allowed to watch
through one unsmashed eye
of a pair of old sunglasses.
She showed me the gleam of the razorish blade,
but I was forbidden
to go near it: we all bear scars,
whether outside or in, our
common ground.
It had no special name of its own,
but with me — and only with me —
fondly she called it
her Great Great-axe of Kindness.