Bad Light

2018-09-20 Carrs Road Clouds 3

Steer clear when the light turns bad.

Avoid the rank smell small habit has —
“survival” is repetition.
Be as little the creature you’ve been so long:
untangle your life from the sad dragnets
and respond to the pull of the glad magnets
wherever attraction bees
and buzzes.
That buzz is your rule of thumb:
don’t settle too soon for comfortable numbness
and whatever you do
don’t stick your hands
in that dazzling, advertised wealth

of the willing dumb.

“When I Walk up the Footbridge” by Woo Sai Nga, translated by Audrey Heijns

Woo Moon & Footbridge Image

Please scroll down for the Chinese version!

“When I Walk up the Footbridge”

Sometimes I am inclined to
acceptance that vehicles driving along the road naturally
tend to get stuck in one direction
and refuelling is never a solution
susceptibility in extreme weather can only accelerate expansion or shrinkage
roads that are cracked open
people smashed to pieces
the world is supposed to be like this, full of defects
and we are fragile throughout

At other times, for example
in the face of headwinds, when my fringe is ruffled
it is easy to believe that
what I once accepted has already aged, and will eventually
be like the cracks in the road,
the people who repair the road,
will have to be us

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

〈當我走上天橋〉/ 胡世雅

有時我傾向接受
路上的車當然會向同一方向堵塞
加油永遠不能成為辦法
過份易感只會在極端天氣下加速膨脹或收縮
裂開的是路面
破碎是人
世界本應如此,充滿缺陷
而我們始終脆弱

也有一些時候,例如
逆風的日子,當瀏海翻動
便又輕易相信
曾經接受過的已經老去,終會
像路面斷裂
而修路的人
會是我們

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

● Woo Sai Nga, born in Hong Kong, is a member of Fannou Poetry Society. She graduated from the Chinese Department, Baptist University of Hong Kong in 2017 and is now teaching at a secondary school. She publishes poems in literary magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and has won the Youth Literary Award (青年文學獎) and the Award for Creative Writing in Chinese (中文文學創作獎) in Hong Kong.

● Audrey Heijns, based in Hong Kong, is working at Shenzhen University. Her translations of Chinese literature have been published in literary magazines, including Het Trage Vuur, Twee Ronde, KortVerhaal, Terras, Renditions, Exchanges and Poetry International.

Phantom Memory

Moss, Quartz & Kangaroo Dung_RESIZED_AUG 2019

He was a sales rep,
he’d hit the road for weeks at a time
trying his best to flog carpets gadgets LP records —
god-knows-what! Once, he brought home for us
a sample volume full of the start
of a 100 illustrated stories
but not an ending in sight
despite my endless re-readings.
(I’m still waiting.) And then
there were the ukuleles, perhaps a swap
with some other travelling mate, their thin strings
strung as taut as the highest high-wire;
our fingers, however, they were
no tight-rope walkers.
Perhaps his head dreamed incessantly of Hawai’i
from our twanging Melbourne gloom.
You can’t blame him for trying, can you?
Now look at him, old salesman,
shadow of his former sell,
but after a lifetime, the story,
Hawai’i, these — undeniable —
stay true past us all.

 

Photograph: Moss, Quartz & Kangaroo Dung

Escalator Revery

Door at Kam Tin Tin Hau Temple 2016_RESIZED

Step out onto that silent grooved plate,
lay absent-minded fingers on the sleek handrail,
and wait for that memorable uplifting shift
to platform slats of flat metal
out into magical stairs.
As wide awareness of the world
drops away from attention, sink
as you stand motionless
in movement back into personal dream.
What goes on from this point
you have little idea, and when the everyday-conscious
re-asserts its lapsed claim,
there you are, red-faced,
hard-pressed to recall
where exactly you were all that time in between
this and that — spot-lit — mirror-blank —
shopping-centred — floor.

 

Photograph: 香港錦田天后廟 Kam Tin Tin Hau Temple, Hong Kong

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 Hau Temple, So Kwun Wat, Hong Kong

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