Nicholas YB Wong

Nicholas YB Wong is the winner of Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition and a nominee for Best of the Net 2010 and Best of Web 2011 Anthology. His poetry is forthcoming in Assaracus: Journal of Gay Poetry, Prime Number Magazine, San Pedro River Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Third Wednesday and the Sentinel Champion Series. He is currently an MFA Candidate at the City University of Hong Kong. Visit him at http://nicholasybwong.weebly.com


Walk With Words

“I never use despair, since it isn’t really mine, only given to me for safekeeping.”
Wislawa Szymborska

Life at 3 A.M. is an elephant
urging me to make choices –

The night chill challenges my social life.
It asks why I commit myself to words
and turn away from humans,
who often talk too much.

Temperature has no speech – it never knows
the setbacks of language.

I have married words. Every night,
I bang on them, wearing my blood red matador’s cape,
working towards perfect orgasms.

Tonight, I am not writing. I walk
in the bituminous street, feeling bitter
after seeing my friends whose life
is made of unpronounceable stock codes.

My feet go numb; my existence, a walnut wafer,
brittle, belittled.

I search in the sky for the mercurial moon –
Not there.
I look back and ask the street how far I will walk



Mark Twain as an Anti-Anti Smoker

Effective January 1, 2007, the vast majority of indoor areas of workplaces and public places, such as restaurants, offices, schools, hospitals, markets, karaokes and bars which are frequented by people of different ages are required to ban smoking.

Hong Kong Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance, cap. 371.

Mark Twain, a heavy smoker
(and literary
                         figure) himself,
is going to rule our city. And he,
                         with his humor and flare,
has decided to set free all
                          underground smokers.
In his inaugural ceremony, he strides
                          onto the stage,
his forefinger curling
his moustache
          when he speaks:
                                           “I won’t bow my head and
confess like a child. I give you all freedom
             in an adult style.
             To cease smoking is
the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know
because I’ve done it
a thousand times.”

You, who exterminated
                    that thing
in the city,
must be dismayed
to know the law
                     is dead.
That law, an infant, which cries no more,
barely knows how to toddle.

That thing
                     as you insist calling it –
has a white sinewy-lean body,
                     a mini-chimney,
paper-smooth, smell of ancient culture. That thing isn’t wood, but it sometimes crackles when lit

                         in absolute silence. 

I’m warning you! That thing is returning
                       at full speed. And this time,
                       you’ll say no euphemism. You’ll speak
of its real name
as you do when you name
Jesus, Kwan Yin and the one
                     rolling over you naked.

During those bleak days, we felt like
in the name of the hoary

                                                                                               We hid in the darkest corner
in universities, diners,
at rooftops, anywhere so long as
                    they were invisible on maps,
                    and breath
at the same time, degraded like dogs which ransacked for food in trash. 

Soon we will hang a Mark Twain
                      flag outside our windows.
                                                        His face
                      soars in proud smoky air,
when we fondle with
that thing
legitimately inside. Soon we will smoke in buses, in churches, in malls, in the                 City Hall, in museums, in the Coliseum.
You then will die gradually
                     of second- and third-hand
smoke, and we,
                   devoted chain smokers,
will die faster. Don’t worry.
                   Don’t dissuade –

we are all prepared. Everything dies
                            on a predetermined date,
                  including the law
you once                                                                                         embraced.