Scenes: 11 Poems, 2 Stories & 1 Play (Asian Voices)

These works (poetry, fiction, drama and non-fiction) were originally posted my AsianVoices Website (1997-2004), a site featuring poetry and prose by young Asian writers. 

Stopped Clock

To punish my leg
for kicking my arm once an hour:
Running Forbidden

~Laura Lam (Hong Kong)

Sunny Afternoon

A rustle of leaves
The sunlight comes through branches
and shines on my book

~Joan Tang (Hong Kong)

Joose Malaise No. 1 in F minor, Op. 21, ‘Over-Reacheress’

And the answer is painful.

She spins the black room in black.
Hands almost gorging her cheeks.
Spinning upright and spinning heads down.
Gorging upright and gorging heads down.

Oh rhythmic precision
one, two, dee dum
dum dum dee dum
three, four, dee dum
dee dee dee dum.

One two (soft claps) dee dum (swirl, again)
dum dum (swirl, again) dee dum (head-turn)

And the answer is painful.

To her left, synchronising, as she drifted left;
walls, human walls tip-toed and drag-turned.
At her right, anticipating, as she mooched right;
walls, dehumanised human walls in precision.
In automaton
this palace of walls
like sails of junks
on rhythmic waves.

(A foot forward, a breast stroke.)
Her head sped forth on satori.

Their heels conform with uniform gravity
on her now vertical arms like analysed heartbeats –
And a

scream

of sinuated flesh and skin
white, trabeate flesh under blue taut skin;
And a

click

of fractured bones and ribs
ash grey loins that joined bare arched ribs;
And a

whimper
camouflaged by unrelentingly
choreographed dance-steps and erected walls.

And the answer is painful.

~Nicole Leong (Singapore). Commenting on this poem, Nicole writes: An allusion to Jewish choreographer Joose’s The Green Table and its/his context. This poem has a Victorian touch to it. The onomatopoeia and directions in brackets are to give specific visual and aural imagery like that of a dance, which in turns symbolises the desire for the escape that is tragic and futile.

A Daily Treat

It’s a big bowl of liquid sensation.
With an exhausted soul I step in and let the burning,
slowly,
biting,
it’s way up soothing
all the unreachable corners of my secret life.
I untie my hair and it
slides
understandingly
tickling my long deserted shoulders.
I almost feel loved

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong)

My Corner

Open the door
Dust on the floor

Bed—
dirty clothes sleep

Desk—
unfinished papers lie

Through the blinds
A striped ray shines
Falls
On the floor

The wind blows
Slowly
The zebra dances

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong)

Misplaced

I believe I saw inside you
Vividly
An enthralling breath of life
A gleeful temperament
Trapped
By a shadow of destructive haziness
It is the essence but not the imaginary mist of darkness
That is alluring me
The real thing which I believe to have existed before my time
And I can foresee its glorious return
In some future year
When I cease to be around

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong)

Dreaming of fairies

I dreamt of fairies last night

Flying around in my house
Packing away after guiding my lost soul in times of worries
I begged her, would you please don¡¦t go?

She scattered pieces of paper on the floor
With numbers on it
10
9
8
7
Leading back to the future of time zero
Filling up the space and time between us

I picked them up one by one
Gradually, getting nearer, and nearer
I closed my eyes and sobbed
Knowing the waiting will be long
And the journey must be walked

She gave me a kiss on the lips
With the soothing quality of the knowing

I opened my eyes and I was in my room
Lying in bed
Feeling
The engulfing solidity of reality
The concrete air, which one must breathe, till the very end

The time will come
When dreams become real
But in the meantime, I can have fairies in my dreams

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong)

Before Forgetting

fingers
they cannot grasp a hold
of my memories
of you
they cannot detain
the passing of time
they are reserved
for burning cigarettes
for you
hoping to capture
a motion
a shadow
or maybe an answer
searching
in the air
in the smoke
in the gaps
between the air
and the smoke
so light
so soft
so grey
will they find you
for me
everything
out of possession
trying to retain
only the memories
a little longer
before returning to the Creator.

~C.Y. Lee (Hong Kong)

When I think of wishes (Sense Poem)

When I think of wishes,
I see glittering meteors crossing the silent blue sky.

When I think of wishes,
I hear the grand concerto performed by the ocean at dawn near the shore.

When I think of wishes,
I taste the most delicious cake in the world that someone dear baked specially for me.

When I think of wishes,
I smell the fragrant sakura when its petals fly past.

When I think of wishes,
I feel the gentle hands of my mother soothing me whenever I cried when I was a baby

~by Jess Yim Ka-mei (Hong Kong)

Snow and Snowmen

Snowflakes drifting down
softly onto two snowmen
wearing the same smile

~Jess Yim Ka-mei (Hong Kong)

Bodymaps

High in the pale tower
A small girl bounces a ball –
Echoes move downwards

These windfall apples
Warm to the hand, breathe summer –
Puckered skin, sweet taste

After the harvest
The sack lies crumpled, empty –
Grain gone to make bread

Nest of migrant birds
Blurs the tree’s spare geometry
Black delta on white

Cabbage rose blooms late
Spreading loose, faded layers –
You can smell the sea

Twin moons shine softly
Shadows pit their gentle mass –
Pulling hidden tides

Two tapered columns
Carry the vaulted ceiling –
Blue veins on marble

Mountain, lake, reflection –
You can climb up the path
Or float to the top

~Pauline Burton (Hong Kong). This type of poetry form, a series of interlocking haiku typically written by more than one person, is known as Renga.

Good Night, Good Morning

Standing in front of the hawker’s stand, I turn my coat collar up and then search for the ten-dollar coin in my pocket. Without another word, the hawker fills the brown tiny paper bag with two stinking bean curds, one with thick chili sauce, the other with the sweet one, as usual. The bean curd is part of my life, or I should say, I am part of the hawker’s life – from Youde to the Fat Tung, from two dollars to five dollars each, I buy the bean curd from him every night on my way to work.

“Good night,” I said to him, the first words I’ve ever spoken to him all these years, and perhaps, the last words as well.

The dripping sausages paint my footsteps on this wet and fishy-smelling street leading to the building. Ha, still no thief follows my “footsteps”.

“Hey, pray to your papa before you go the work,” same old words, my wife used to say, “remember to take this safety yellow paper with you, I got it from Wong Tai Sin yesterday…”

Every time I just put the “magic yellow paper” under the mat in front of the door when I left home. Of course, my wife did not know that. She never understood me – every one wants to lead a peaceful life but please, don’t count me in. I had never told her my ambition was to be a policeman, and now, I have no more chance to tell her.

Though my shaking hand is covered with the sauces, I try to feel that triangular yellow paper, which has been tied onto my neck since the day she left. Yes, still here.

Continue Reading Good Night, Good Morning by Laura Lam (Hong Kong)

The Person I Do Not Know

I saw him again. I wonder if he recognized me. The last time I saw him was two months before. I was waiting for a bus. At first, I just saw someone with an old straw hat wandering on that busy street, and then I recognised him. He was wandering with no purpose. Passersby intentionally avoided walking near him. He seemed unaware of this. He just went on walking forward and murmuring.

I did not know what to call him. Obviously, he is not a beggar. No beggar would reject the money offered by pasers-by. He is more like a stray old man. He is rather small and thin and had white hair. I remember the first time I saw him: he was wandering around the housing estate where I live. He was dressed in exactly the same manner. That old straw hat on his head is his symbol. It easily caught my attention. He is always in his dirty white sweatshirt and grey trousers. Interestingly, he always carries a bag on his back. I wonder if he had lost his way, if he had family, and what things might actually be in the bag.

Continue reading The Person I Do Not Know by Eunice Lau (Hong Kong)

The Phone

A one-act play by Irene Lau Oi-yan
For those who miss the little things in life
And those who talk as if they haven’t

Setting: Two public telephone booths stand alongside Nathan Road, one of the busiest roads in Hong Kong. On one of the booths is a sign saying ‘Out of Order’.

Lights on. The booths are unoccupied. A Filipino MAID enters with a plastic bag of coins. She wears a sweater and an ankle-long dress of dark colours. She approaches the booth, places the little plastic bag on top of the telephone and starts her long-distance call.

MAID
Maligayang…

She continues her chitchat in Tagalog when HUSBAND enters and queues up after her. He frowns as he sees MAID talking non-stop adding coins one by one. He checks his pager again and stamps his feet in impatience.He strolls to and fro between the kiosks and stares at the out-of-order sign on the other telephone booth. He tries that phone, and soon puts down the handset roughly. After some time, MAID leaves. HUSBAND hurries to make the phone call.

HUSBAND
Yes, Ling, it’s me. Oh, what’s the matter? You left an urgent message… Oh, I’m on my way back! I had a meeting – you knew about it already. What? Where am I? I’m in the street!… Why late? Oh one of those Filipinos was making a damn long distance call . . . (raising his voice) Cheating you! My god… oh my god… certainly not. . . (he pauses for several seconds) Don’t holler like that!

GIRLFRIEND and BOYFRIEND enter, walking hand in hand. They wait behind HUSBAND for the phone. They whisper to each other.

HUSBAND
I say – I’m not… Hey, don’t roar at me again! I told you – I’m not hiding anything! (he notices the couple queueing behind him and lowers his voice) Don’t have such an imagination! I say . . . (he pauses for a few seconds) We’ll talk when I’m back, all right? . . . What do you want? Somebody’s waiting for the phone… Okay, okay… be back in half an hour, alright?

HUSBAND hangs up the phone, sighs deeply and leaves. BOYFRIEND smiles at GIRLFRIEND

Continue reading The Phone: A One-Act Play by Irene Lau (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)
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