Scenes: 26 Poems, 3 Stories & 1 Play about Everyday Life (Asian Voices)

These works (poetry, fiction, drama and non-fiction) are like frozen scenes of everyday life. They were originally posted the AsianVoices Website (1997-2004), a site featuring poetry and prose by young Asian writers. I’m now in the process of uploading an archived version of the works that had been published.


The falling leaves have
laid out a yellow blanket
The trees are undressed

~ Ng Hiu-lui (Hong Kong)


Stopped Clock

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

~Laura Lam (Hong Kong)


Two Sides

Last night, I felt foreign,
in the land of my birthplace.

Born one nationality,
ethnically part of another.

I prefer dim sum to kari kare,
food my body rejects.

Part of two cultures,
but rejected by both.

~Carl C. Perito. Kari kare is a dish from the Philippines consisting of oxtail and vegetable stew in peanut sauce.



I lie
on the bathroom floor of a luxurious hotel room.

A white face towel
lies between my cheek and the hardness of the marble.
But the chill invades me through my clothes
as I watch the formation of words.

Resting on my intimacy with still life,
I converse with the anguish inside me

For years now, it has been waiting
for that eruption in my soul,
which always eludes me
too soon.

I cry, in the bathroom of a luxurious hotel room, waiting
to fall.

~Colette W.



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.



Moon lit softly over the cosy beach.
Breeze blew, a desolate serenade.
Spray splashed, echoed in the air,
Whispered by my ear, caressed my hair.

Barefoot, bathing on the shore.
Stood there, breathing in the heavy air.
Tears rolled down and merged with waves.
With my remorse, together they flowed away.

~Jess Yim Ka-mei (Hong Kong)


Silver Rain on the Penthouse

Sky high
Alone by my side
My soul signs
How come days are so hard to get by
Love cries
Moon dies
Missing you and I
Blue light shines
Unseen faces lie
Lines of silver raindrops reflect
on a dozen red round tables
Time rebounds on the surface
of countless empty faces
Crowd gather
Spirits shatter
People unite in dreams
that are impossible
Air of frozen dust sinks into my lungs
I feel sick
Feeling is burning in hell.

~Vivian Chiang (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


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


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

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.


Sunny Afternoon

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

~Joan Tang (Hong Kong)


Lonely Night

Open the windows
faint sound of wavering leaves
I’m sleeping alone

~Carol Ngan Lai-ha (Hong Kong)



Two golden leaves fall
Concentric circles merging
in the still black pool

~longzijun, Hong Kong)


Island Man

Island Man
Lid opens
Life extracted

To be

Is Clear
Strings hopes

On shore seeks
Setting sun
Rising hopes

Those before
Rising Sun

Casts off
Lengthening shadow rays
Darkness drape
Over soul

Follows string
Pearls now
Of expectation

Some Shine
Others shatter


On shore looks
Rising Sun
Shadows cast net

Shapes haunt
The box

Light shifts
Pearls cool
On neck holding

Island Man
No longer

~Devadas Krishnadas (Singapore)


Saying Goodbye

Standing in front of each other
One tall one short
I looked up at your green grey long lashed eyes
You looked at my brown and still brown small slanty eyes
You gave me a big hug
I could barely touch your cheek with the immense height difference
Knowing any type of kiss would be inappropriate
I said goodbye
With a million take care
All the important things are left unsaid

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong)


A Daily Treat

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

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong)


My Corner

Open the door
Dust on the floor

dirty clothes sleep

unfinished papers lie

Through the blinds
A striped ray shines
On the floor

The wind blows
The zebra dances

~Joanna Sio (Hong Kong)



I believe I saw inside you
An enthralling breath of life
A gleeful temperament
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
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
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)


The Snail

The Snail I

Heavily he creeps
Onto the Golden Mountain.
The snail tastes the breeze.

The Snail II

The cochleate backpack
sinks on his tiny body.
Bulky weighty steps.

The Snail III

Pale are the feelers.
Shivering is the body.
Yet strong is the will.

~ Lesley Chow (Hong Kong)


the cobra and the mouse

its hiss
the hollow sound

through the silence
that houses my fears
slowly disappears.
still i,
with nimble feet

and fears conquered
walks with gait

right through
the cobra pulling
its double-edged tongue.

~Jose Alibone A. Naboya (Hong Kong)


Trees of Green

Trees of green
Flowers of bloom
Clouds of vapors
Streets of gloom.
Earth of wonders
Skies of gold
Sights of breath
Hands of fold.

Dews of dust
Thorns of flesh
Raids of blood
On fingers of trust.

~Durlabh Singh (England)


Before Forgetting

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
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
out of possession
trying to retain
only the memories
a little longer
before returning to the Creator.

~C.Y. Lee (Hong Kong)


Snow and Snowmen

Snowflakes drifting down
softly onto two snowmen
wearing the same smile

~Jess Yim Ka-mei (Hong Kong)


Upon the River

Dragonflies skimming
over the flowing river
praise their slim shadows

~Lam Kit-ming (Hong Kong)


To a dear friend

With no lies, with no hides,
was our legend in the past.
Without a word, just with a smile,
our inner wires connected.

Joys we shared, sorrows we shouldered.
As if our lives bounced together.
Life ahead we rehearsed,
A role for each we reserved.

With no trace, with no trend,
Our tragedy came.
With no calls, with no talks,
We were separated, not close at all!

A cold war has come,
At all costs should be paused.
Attention I tried to draw,
But why did you withdraw?

With no blame, with no flame,
Our relations get plain.
With no touch, with no trust,
What’s going on with us?

It it an end or is it a test ?
Surely a pity this is!
If we are split and in times that I’m in need,
Would you give me a helping hand indeed?

~Jess Yim Ka-mei (Hong Kong)


The Eagle

Reborn, refresh, and rearranging his feathers
The eagle opens his wings beyond the mountains;
Flapping and flying freely in the clear blue sky,
As if ready for a challenge to conquer the universe.

With a touch of arrogance it rests on a broken bough
With its eyes fixed on the ground, searching
For the innocence that is gone completely,
Reflecting on the happiness that is stolen furtively.

Head raised up, and swiftly expand his wings
Like speed of light he flies into the clouds
Trying to break through the division
Between heaven and earth, joy and sufferance.

Flying higher and higher, the little ants smaller and smaller
So much to experience with the freedom that is granted
By nature. I watch the gigantic creature, wild and eager,
Ascending gradually into the paradise of bliss and mystery.

~William Cheng (Hong Kong)


A Debt of Blood

Uncle Yung is a friend of our family. During the Second World War, he fought against the Japanese. He tells the following story about his wartime experiences.

Before the Japanese invaded our country, I was just an ordinary villager living in a small and remote village, living a cycle of starting work at sunrise and resting after sunset. I caught fish in a nearby river, fed poultry in the yard behind my hut and grew vegetables on the hillside not very far away from my hut. One day my life changed dramatically.

I heard from other villagers that the Japanese army was invading our country and some of them had already come to Hong Kong. The Japanese forces had taken most parts of Hong Kong under their control. According to that villager, those Japanese soldiers turned every place they visited into a living hell. At that time, I wished those Japanese would never find or be interested to come to our poor and remote village. But my wishes never come true.

On a cool and silent night on Christmas Day, 1941, when most of the villagers had gone back home to have rest, I was lying on my bed reading a book. Suddenly I could hear a lot of noise. My poultry cried loudly. I saw a lot of people walking around outside my hut speaking some kind of language unknown to me. I knew instantly that they were those Japanese. One of the Japanese soldiers broke in and dragged me out of my hut. I could see that all of them had fierce eyes. I didn’t know how to resist even though I had learned some Kung Fu (martial arts). I thought Kung Fu couldn’t beat guns and swords.

Continue reading A Debt of Blood: WWII Oral History (Hong Kong)


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.


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.

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.

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)


Found Poetry: Second Viewing

Found Poetry is simple that—a poem that has been found. The writer is often unknown. The words themselves may have started life as a memo, a sign, laundry instructions or the fine-print on a warranty. Words, however, have their own power, and their own ambitions. For example, the found poem entitled Second Viewing is from an answer sheet to a listening test. The writer, a student of English as a second language, was watching a video on computerisation and struggling to catch fragments of language. The words left on the page reflect how many of us are left grasping blindly to find meaning in this fast-paced, hi-tech world. The words are as they appeared; I have only changed the line-lengths.

Second Viewing

On a separate sheet of paper
Take notes about the information in the video
Then, write a summary
Of not more than 200 words
On this sheet.

Three high-rise
Particular past model rise
Cut inventory by 2/3
And save about 10% of production costs
The control
And schedules
In white-collar
Are used in automation
And productivities integration
Make Decision
Any Intelligence

Production material
Easily break down
Product deal and broken down

Same represent new way doing
Culture and organisation structure
Take up grade deal
Translate to software

In theorem
About 9-10%
Fast create
In basis
And drive

Secure 100 people job
Future work look like
American societies industries degrace
Activities, Individual
And supersinodinal program handle

~Anonymous Student (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 and I will promptly carry out your request.

Go to the main Asian Voices page

Poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction about family
Poems and stories about love and heartbreak
Edible Words
Delicious poems and stories in celebration of food
Poetry and prose about death and remembrance
The Journey
Poems and stories about innocence and experience
Poems and stories about self-reflection and spirituality
In Class
Poems, stories and articles about school life and education
In Transit
Poems about travel and transportation
Poems and articles about places
Poems, stories and drama about the creative process
Poetry, prose and drama about everyday life
Kids’ Corner
Poems and stories by and/or for younger readers


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