Poetry / December 2017 (Issue 38)

Three Poems from Goddess of Democracy

by Henry Wei Leung


To mime a more exacting fire

In which I translate the other
Despite I was there I was there too

A flag an encounter with silence

A man giving and giving his river of kerosene
To the long road of protest
Why can't I light students on fire

In which please translate my cigarette
Beneath armored police on a galleon stage

Three men sail into a city of no citizenship
With a megaphone, a gas of tears, and a camcorder

Red light blinking at the end of the tunnel
The other way the other telling


                    Respectfully Dear Brigand Road-Hogs
                    tyrannically occupying roads, illegally
                    assembling for over ten days with grave
                    consequence to the lives of Hong Kong Island/
                    Kowloon's citizens, students can't go to
                    school, parents can’t go to work, household
                    incomes subtracting, store incomes subtracting—
                    your foolish Occupy campaign is doubly criminal,
                    spreading discontent
["the sky's rage the people's complaint"]

A thousand copies of this white note itting down

A dark apartment window in a billboard-lit darkness

A protest camp staring at stars dislodged, lit up in wonder

One morning I passed a man weeping though his cheeks were dry

An insect of iridescent hue trampled in the [          ] of the night before

Dm stands for Deemocrycee

                    rupturing society and the home, aggrieving parents.
                    You must withdraw by 20 October at 11:14pm,

"Fourteen" sounds like "certain death"

                    otherwise you’ll be invited to eat shit-urine
                    ink bombs, of which you can have your fill
                    and then go home to sleep, okay?
                        All citizens who love Hong Kong,
                    let's make ten cloacal bombs as gifts
                    for their dinner, an especially enriching bomb consommé!
                    These bombs are a [learned] dark ink
                          + shit
                                 + piss
                                        weight of orange

Language is a darkness interpreted

                    made of thin plastic bags tied at the mouth

                          Allied Federation Coalition League of Family Protectors
                                Hong Kong Saviors

                    [my translation]

     Tied at the mouth





Your mother rubs her whipping arm.
To punish is to be divine.

The Romans used to say: "Amabo te,"
Which means, "I love you." Or: "Please."

Encounter this.

Limb of a creek longing for water for years—
Deaf ghost wearing weariness like a shield—

You bloom in this world to be benign
As a tumor, a scribble on the inner void.

Be outer lining, too.

Your cry is what makes her whipping arm numb.
You are a fence outlining two homes.

Be algebra: where x is holiness, holes,
The cat in the box. Be variable.

Be all, and broken.

Know: your mother dove into the sea
To never return, hung from a balcony

And lived. You face a saved body,
A machinus ex dei, a rewired flesh.

Be studious to her death.


You left a sack of quick-concrete
against the tree downstairs.
It didn’t rot like our potatoes,
nor ooze like worming rice.

The rains came; the sack hardened.
The rains went; the sack bled off.
Only concrete remained, stood
like grave shoulders barely upright,

rock without language, immutable
upon the roots. Meanwhile: leaves.
Meanwhile: elbows lifting, naked,
to the cold. Meanwhile: winged seeds.
When I became a man, I found your jacket
springing in snow, creamy wool long
become esh, outer sheen a shell,
abandoned thing of sleeves which didn't fit.
I hung it from a branch. Wind filled the hood,
and hanged it.
                        Haven't I paid my way?
I paid my way without you.
wrenched the hands off our clocks,
I listened to the tongues still clucking.
You only left us with time this time.
You proved that ction is a form of worry.
You are a form of worry.
One of us was always meant to be an ocean:
unrequiting, distant,
deafening the ear at its chest.


Editors' Note:
These poems are from Henry Wei Leung's latest poetry collection,
Goddess of Democracy: An Occupy Lyric (Omnidawn, 2017).

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.