Life’s Journey: 14 Poems and 3 Stories about Innocence and Experience (Asian Voices)

These poems and stories about youth and age, about growing up, gaining experience and losing innocence were originally posted the AsianVoices Website (1997-2004), a site featuring poetry and fiction by young Asian writers. 

Dark Side

That was the place where the dark side of my childhood went on;
Where I would leave every morning and only return at night.
So long ago that I don’t feel as attached as before.
Was it twelve years ago, that long?
For you, I still have a strange feeling;
As if I feel so very close, but not too close… Or maybe a little more.

Is it because of the bad memories you brought me?
Or was it something else that caused me to fall?
Trying so hard to recall…
But can’t seem to remember any happy things from it all.
Just a lot of yelling and crying that went on.
Still thinking… No, nothing positive at all.

~C.Y. Lee (USA)

I am Flying

Once upon a time,
I told my mom, ‘Using one hand I can darken the sky,’
‘with my two arms I can fly.’

‘It’s an easy trick to darken the sky,’ she smiled,
as she put her hand over my eyes.
‘So now you can’t see the sky!’

‘But how are you going to fly?’
I fell down from the bunk bed as I tried.
It hurt, I cried.

Time flies,
but never have I given up this fancy of mine, cos
everyone only knows how to darken the sky;
seldom does anyone knows how to
fly to it, put a star on it and make it shine.

All these years
I filled my little star with laughter and tears; love and dreams.
Now I am going to put this so high that everyone can see —
I hope I can open your eyes;
I hope I can light up your life;
I hope you could always remember me,
a friend who is always on your side.
Yes, friends. I am flying now.
Can you see me on your way home from campus to the MTR?

~Laura Lam (Hong Kong)

Hospital

Siren howls at night
rushing to the hospital
A new life is born

~by Vivian Chiang

Meeting Strangers

People come and go
Half disguised as someone they don’t know
The occasional leaking of the inner-self of the amateur
Slightly coloured the fake polished surface
The tiny little bit of careless genuineness
Lures your innocence
Tempted to stay
And test it to destruction
When the music dies
You slowly
Hoover up your own vomit
With your sorry mouth

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong).

Brutal Decision

How come your hands so rough and so experienced decide
To touch my precious unexposed body
And soul mercilessly
Choking my life away and peeling off
My skin
Exposing
My flesh bleeding to the cold, corrosive world.

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong)

End of a Century

Calendar gets thin
Red rose with a long green stem
weeps off her petals

~Kitty Chong Ngar-wei (Hong Kong).

Sunday

I.
“Checkmate,” he called out
for the 16th time today
he knew in advance the
game would again end his way
his mind still fixed on
the last move he made
and the darkened look
on his opponent’s face
defined the sigh he gave

Mr. Parker, the winner
saddened by the defeat
looked to the faintly checkered sky
squinting his eyes at the fading sun
that lit the games from dawn to dusk
got up from his park bench
and collected his pieces
in a paper bag that held his lunch
remembering this time
to take the long way home

II.
Name that familiar street
turning corners with a question every time
Mr. Parker played a memory game
walking aimless to the grocery store
pretending he was far away
looking up at birds and buildings
then their shadows on the ground
dangling street signs without sounds
telling stories of his afternoons
and endless nights of tigers and booze

He arrived at the general store
(Mr. Parker calculated)
much sooner than he wanted to
the street light flickered kind of blue
scared he’d know exactly what was there
for his wife who often tried to share
excitement in what brand what price
it wasn’t the one he had in mind
the kind of life he often surmised
as the card of someone else’s

III.
There was no doubt
in Mr. Parker’s plan
clearly the definition of a family man
to do exactly what was right
to be home three hours before midnight
to wake at two to turn off the light
forgetting for a moment today
Mr. Parker wanted to lose his way

~Karen Y. Chan (USA)

A Fairy in my Stomach

Summer is wasting
I lay on the bed at night with one eye open
A fairy is sleeping in my stomach
I steal her power cautiously

Summer is wasting
I lay on the grass on the garden under the old palm tree
A shining diamond falls in my hands
I am rich and blessed

Summer is wasting
I lay on a boat in running rapids
A waterfall is in front of me
Will I die?

Summer is wasting
I lay on the white and smooth sand on a beach in Greece
Naked youngsters are running with innocent hearts
A string from the sun ties the prettiest one up to the sky

~Kama Tsoi (Hong Kong)

Lullaby

I heard the Lullaby from Susan,
Who has pretty feet with nacreous toes and soft soles
She steps on the water and the water lily opens
She smells wild gowan

She sings
‘Watch the day begin again’
whispering into the night: can I stay with you?
Her tears dropped and the ocean formed.’
She turned into graffiti
when her lover married a muscular man

Susan’s soul died when the lardy man slid into her body
She lives in a freak show
Where she takes poison to cure the wound
She still has pretty feet with painted rosy red toes and soft soles
She puts one foot on the bed and the moan starts
She is the thorn with a beautiful scar

~Kama Tsoi (Hong Kong)

Black Sheep

Chapter 1 The Sheep’s World
Sex power labour work food desire
Sex power labour work food desire
Sex power labour work food desire

The black sheep chased by the shepherd dog
Ended up behind the gates where he never wanted to be
Four legs
Full Hair
Paralyzed
Shivered
Shaken
Naked
Anger
Crashed

Motion hijacked by rage of blood
Repeating turns in broken circles
Fiercely hunted
Fiercely controlled
Fiercely haunted
by the realism of cruelty

Chapter 2 The Shepherd’s World
Black and White
White and Black
Black or White
White or Black
Matters?

There’s a noise
A noise from behind his ears
He saw no one when he turned
A moment of dead silence
The noise, the noise suddenly attacked him from no where

For the first time, he felt a shock in his system
a shock to his nerve
it became too painful
he told the noise he can’t stand it any longer

The noise silenced
The shepherd was permanently silenced
before he could be given a chance
to present his last word

Chapter 3 The Sheep’s Fate
Black Sheep
Waiting to be slaughtered
among all the white ones
Black and White
White and Black
Black or White
White or Black
The black sheep didn’t make it nor the white

A sharp knife
Slit through the throat
The Black Sheep painted all the white sheep red

Purely white
Purely Red
Purely life and death

Chapter 4 The Final Chapter
Sex power labour work food desire
Sex power labour work food desire
Sex power labour work food desire

Death
Full stop

~Vivian Chiang (Hong Kong)

Clear New Dream

The clouds are far behind us,
Clear, blue skies ahead.
The nightmare’s almost over,
Clear new dreams instead.

So now lets brush off worries
And up the road we go,
Green lights at every junction
Eager hearts packed to go.

Remember times when we even struggled
To live through just one day.
When skies grew dark, horizon shadowed;
No sun to light the way.

But we held hands and braved the journey
Down the winding road.
‘Til this day came when skies grew clear
And lightened every load.

So come now lets continue,
Embrace the days ahead.
The nightmare is no longer
Clear new dreams await.

~Mohammad Said bin Rahim (Singapore)

Seasons

Spring comes
And flowers bloom
Like a baby boy
Born from the east.

Summer arrives
With green leaves
Like a sweet child
Freshened by the southern breeze.

Going west
The man seeks
His fortune and his love
And autumn visits
Without being invited.

He feels his age
One winter night
With trees covered by snow
From the north.

Death draws near when the day
Time noiselessly walks away.

~William Cheng (Hong Kong)

All That I’ve Become: A Poem by Elaine Chow

As I walk through fields of infinite darkness
Life itself grabs me like a harness.
Struggling, struggling
Stuck in Hell’s foreboding cell,
Haunted by tortured screams echoing like a distant bell.
Never progressing, never succeeding, only failing.
Losing the war, losing the battle, losing everything
The end will always be the same
No matter what, I lose the game.

As the vapor starts to collect
I begin to regret
I wonder why I’m doing this
I also wonder if I’ll be missed
So scared that I’ll be found
Heart stopping at every sound
Feeling desperate, feeling lost
“Go through with it, no matter what the cost.”
From within the dark – something bright
Or is it my tunnel of white light?
So easy to breathe…
No more dry heaves
I sit up with a jolt
My head explodes in a painful bolt
The air I need…
I didn’t succeed…

Continue reading All That I’ve Become: A Poem by Elaine Chow

Travelling

I

He said he had travelled to many places
Seen a great deal of friendly faces
One after one his journey being done
Enjoying his time and he regretted none.

II

A lot of warm and affectionate hearts had he felt
As he met new strangers wherever he dwelt
Tired of travelling one day, he had decided
To search for the life he always wanted.

III

He began his next journey with the person
He thought and believed he could trust
And that magical Time, like a corrosive poison
Proved, ate, as the poor soul started to rust.

IV

As if challenging the Common Enemy
Of human being, though no remedy
He disregarded and neglected time
Just as much as it did to him.

V

The desire to live and to survive,
To search for the real meaning of love
Continued, he collected fragments of a broken heart
A journey he proudly said was part of his life.

~William Cheng (Hong Kong)

A Fairy in His Gut

“I want to get pregnant,” the little boy said. He pushed back his hair, and watched his shadow break into the corner of the room. He stopped; it died. “I want to be. I want to be.”

“Don’t whine.” Across the room Jenny dumped two piles of clothing into the closet, muttering as she thumbed through the underwear white. “What did you just say?”

“I want to have a baby.”

“A baby?” Her voice sharpened. “You wouldn’t want to, I’m sure.” Thump-thump. Her nails flipped through a broken collar. Clickety-clack. “In fact, I’m damn sure.

The boy watched her from behind his glasses. He was perched on the edge of his bed. In the austerity of his room Jenny’s bulk looked even bigger, almost obscene. Fat cow, he thought, yet another image rose against his will: a nice dairy cow, mottled and innocent, like those printed on greeting cards, but never on a meadow, where the grass was imperfectly green.

Continue reading A Fairy in His Gut by Mia Wong (Hong Kong)

My Barbie House

‘Bring your Barbie and her sister Kelly…’ Barbie’s commercial is on television. I counted on my fingers, one, two, three… it has been already nine years since played Barbie doll with Gloria, my sister two years younger than me. My thoughts go back to nine years ago. I remember that I used to play games with Gloria. I would be the Barbie and she would be Kelly the younger sister. We moved the dolls and acted as if we were really on the street, shopping, eating, laughing. That childish game would allow us to idle away an entire afternoon. But now there are no more games, only apathy.

Like today, when I went back home and rang the bell and Gloria opened the door for me. We did not say anything to each other.

Many years ago, both of us were very quarrelsome and unyielding, yet we would always find some way to reconcile our differences. At the age of ten, something happened which caused our relationship to deteriorate. One day we walked past a house and looked inside. Unfortunately, an aggressive German Shepherd saw us and bit Gloria. At that moment, the dog’s sharp and shining teeth frightened me. I couldn’t do anything but run away and call for help. Later Gloria recovered, however, she did not talk to me. It seemed as though she were another German Shepherd, hostile and unapproachable. No matter how I explained, she did not listen. At last I got angry, too. All sense of guilt flew away. And the cold war started.

Continue reading My Barbie House: A Story by Ivy Sun (Hong Kong)

Dai Di

It was just another sleepless night. She stepped out from her very warm bed and grabbed the coat on the back of the chair. She felt the icy cold floor. She did not wear any slippers at home, though her mother had insisted that sheo buy a pair. She liked real feeling, without any mediation. She quietly turned the doorknob, not wishing to arouse her sisters. A twin. Sometimes, she felt herself a stranger to them. A room renter. Her twin sisters share things among themselves; laughter, tears, secrets, gossips (hopefully it’s not about her), food, clothing, and everything else. This was what she thought. She was not supposed to be there anyway.

It was so dark everywhere. She lit a candle. They were poor, but they surely had electricity. How could one live without electricity? The most gorgeous invention of the century was electricity, she believed, though she did not know whom she was admiring. She took out a book from her bag, The Severed Head by Iris Murdoch. Only two more days before she had to return it to the library. She opened it to the page where she had stopped that afternoon. No bookmark, but by heart. It had a smell, the smell with age and history. She sometimes wondered the sizes and shapes of the hands that had once hold the same book. Shouldn’t there be some common characteristics shared between these people and her? Somehow, they had chosen the same book! Not the one that stood next to it, but this particular one. But she hated the library books. She hated the smell. The smell of yellow and worn pages. She was also disgusted by the images that one of these people must have brought with him the same book she was reading to the toilet. But what could she do?

To read under the small gloomy light of the candle was not a problem for her. She liked that feeling. To absorb all the knowledge in the book with only candlelight made the knowledge more valuable. Perhaps the writer wrote the book under the same situation. Perhaps.

She seldom went home lately. She lived by herself after graduation. There had been a violent clash when she told them. Blaming her for forgetting her origin, that she was brought up by HANDS. Of course everyone was brought up by hands, what was so special about that?

Continue reading Dai Di: A Story by Marjorie Cheung (Hong Kong)

AsianVoices Archives: These poems were originally posted on the now-defunct AsianVoices website (1997-2007), which featured poetry and fiction by young Asian writers. Copyright belongs to the original authors. If you are the writer and would like to remove, add or edit this work, please contact me at zijun01@gmail.com and I will promptly carry out your request.

AsianVoices Contents

  1. Bloodlines (family)
  2. Passions (love & heartbreak)
  3. Edible Words (food)
  4. Requiem (death & remembrance)
  5. Life’s Journey (innocence & experience)
  6. Reflections (self-discovery & spirituality)
  7. In Class: (school life & education)
  8. In Transit: (travel & transportation)
  9. Destinations (places)
  10. Nature
  11. Muses: (creativity, inspiration & the creative process)
  12. Conflict: (war and its effects)
  13. Scenes: (miscellaneous works)
  14. Kids’ Corner (for younger readers)
  15. Pets
  16. Friendship
  17. Emotions
  18. Haiku
  19. Brushstrokes (Chinese poems)
Return to AsianVoices

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