Poetry / December 2017 (Issue 38)

Sham Shui Po Speaks

by Eddie Tay


I am propped with characters,
a folded newspaper I have yet to learn to read.

I walk, and each forehead is a tango
of furry anxieties, vegetable hopes, shrink-wrapped video desires.

Some of them are tied to prices of walls and ceilings,
some to siu mai and curry fishballs,
and some to vintage cameras and cardboard boxes.

The pillar holds many prices.

I do not know what I sell, but I know I am already selling myself.

The person is a silhouette we never get to see.

He does not see us.

He looks at the street with eyes different from ours.

I dare not smile at him.


The mind wanders like a discarded plastic wrapper
caught in a tiny whirlwind on tarmac.

There is a dream of mice you cannot understand,
one where the cat sleeps and is king.

The scene is bloodless,
but stories of hardship, like torn clothing, cannot be bloodless.

The caged homes are hidden from the night watchman,
a nightmare bodies in bed prefer not to have.


I am a few steps behind what I see
and I hope my cup is full enough for an art
that remains thirsty.

Outside the photograph, behind me
is an unwashed old man sitting on a yellowing mattress.
He does not ask for coins;
I do not know how to speak to him.  
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.