Hong Kong Poets Under 40 / November 2012 (Issue 19)

Belle Ling

 Belle Ling received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature (First Class Honours) from The University of Hong Kong, and she later finished the Master of Creative Writing program at the University of Sydney in Australia. She loves poetry with vivid imagery and insightful "facts" into life. Her inspirations, strangely yet honestly, usually come from the stories of Haruki Murakami and the music of Hayley Westenra. Her current favourite poets include Judith Beveridge and Martin Harrison. Ling sees poetry writing as a dialogue between her unexplored inner-being and the unrealised transmutation of the routine. Poetry, to her, is a way of living a truthful life, by attaining an exclusively private space of being. Her poetry collection, A Seed and a Plant, was shortlisted as a finalist for the HKU Poetry Prize 2010.


There is no bigness or smallness in poetry, only truthfulness. This is the spirit of my writing. With historical judgment, there has, surely, been greater poetry in terms of its aesthetic value. Literary achievement is not, however, the long-standing motivation of all writing, especially, to most unknown, or perhaps more accurately put, unidentified poets. I am definitely one of them.

The truthfulness of writing is not just about being honest to our truest face, it is also a matter of contraction and relaxation in breathing. There is honesty in breathing because we do it naturally, and we know how to do it from birth until death. We need it seriously, but we do not take it seriously.

I attain a sense of being when I write. This sense of being has not developed primarily within the calculative and critical discipline of the traditional education I have received. Instead, it flows from an intimate interaction with my underdeveloped yet significant inner being, with whom I have not been very familiar. I start to recognise more about its inclinations, and I gradually take up the enterprise of being impressed and wanting to express. The images produced by this interaction are unified with me: they speak through my (sub-)consciousness, and, in return, I speak through their patterns. Judgment is less valued than acknowledgment when subjectivities come in. Notwithstanding the yet-to-be sensible arrangement of words or sounds on paper, this harmonious interaction between my inner being and the images grants me a solid feeling of re-realizing the interrelationship of minute transmutation. I usually have a lot of poems awaiting to flourish in due course. What I treasure most is this dialogic process.

With a story, we have to work on plot and characterisation. With poetry, it is more about the intensity of "something," an intensity crafted to have the power to intoxicate. Every cell has to be drenched with the life of that "something," both for the writer and the reader, and the meanings and truths of that "something," instead of being standard, should vary according to different individuals. As a poet (truthfully at heart, to the humblest), I am always devoted to finding that "something" which seems to be the origin of energy in the widest sense. Interestingly, no matter how frustrating or excruciating an experience is, once this energy is condensed within a poem, the experience, though still painful, is not felt as negatively or intensively as before. It is distanced. The role of the energy in our life, and the relationship of it to our way of living, is displaced. Displacement opens possibilities. You give yourself a chance to look at it again. After that "one last look," there comes a "beginning," as Wallace Stevens said.
We are living because our cells are going through metabolism. Poetry, to me, is the sustenance of life—a continuous ridding off and regeneration of emotions and truths, metaphysical metabolism.


So, to Me, You are Still Alive

For everything on the first day is so peaceful as if it is the last—

Cola bubbles recite unclear benediction, just as fireworks pronounce the Latin name
of chive: allium schoenoprasum, and shut up.

Your poppy lips, where spiced corpses, overripe Fuji apples and iced honey
are hidden, while yet hard to escape—

heaps of flies. Let the raindrops roll on our tongues. Let’s feel their balance.
When our fingers sing on the fence, mimic the patters of rain, practice

crooking as lily blossoms—without leaves, when strangers’ names become our first truthful slip of the tongue in dream, no abstract excuse or funny promise is lost

in translation. The rubber scrapes your blank letter the whole afternoon to—
erase or to recall the cadence. I’ll snip the tap water, under which we freeze

our itches, and I’ll squeeze out oil from the deep-fried dough,
which is our last dessert, until the serviette underneath is drowned—if I can.

For you have left so many things for me as if I have nothing to choose—

to remember or to forget.

Oceanic Blue

A poised wide blue umbra rolls, like a marble
in the troll, the blue spiral inside swirls
to unfold the concealed glimmers
as the wind bloats.  

Light fragments the cold azure
into golden yellow, fish scales are bleached
to the shiniest silver. Life
bursts through colours.

Newborn fishes twitch and twiddle
the blaze, twine it into a glazy floss, turning
the blue void into infinitesimal
streaks through which

fitful fishes flick a lick, flap n’  
flash, flop then lopping in the cobalt,
weaving a fabric that is hauled into
curves, called waves.

Clouds, saturated, overspill
blackened rain which peels
the dampened crust of the sea. Turquoise
pulp is raked, molded into
a ruthless iron-gray.

You steep in a colourless corner
deep-down the ocean, where
time and space have no place. You coil  
your joints, mouthing full-rounded bubbles
to infiltrate fish-scented breath
into every saltine particle.

A giant hull-edged fish strains the billows
into a stretched shadow. It tames the rain trills with its
iron-stiff bottom, reaming to mince the bubbles that shuffle
the waffled scales. The jelly soft pupils of your
infantile siblings are paled into bile-pickled
oil stains waiting to stink.

This shadow is a black hole---
none knows if it is vacant or occupied
but a concentration of unknown-ness, continually
wringing lively forms and leaving a shapeless,

thin piece of foam, roaming, with ever-
procrastinated destinations. Your lidless eyes, unable
to close; your tears, unable to be distinguished, dissolve  
into the cool blue. Someday, you know

your flesh and bones will be mashed, with no  
solid shape to caress and tickle each other; As
the sharp blade slithers in your belly, your
vessels and veins are warped like balled-up
circlets of wires with sinew knots. Your

blood strands, sucked up by air, evaporates  
without a whisper. Your black-dotted eggs, in which
dust-sized eyes are still napping, are sprinkled over
sushi rice. Gills and eye bulbs cluster
as leftover clumps. Bladders and fins mingle, as vomited
from an overturned rotten stomach.

The evening sun anchors an orange-pink hook upon
your oily head. With the saffron circle mildly warming
your clay-soft brain, you are praying as usual
as if it is your last prayer: “Bone

back sea.” I will throw your wan needled bone,
back to the rough seabed, let
you smudge the sea with the most primordial
oceanic blue.
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All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.