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.