Tammy Lai-Ming Ho is a Hong Kong-born poet, editor, translator,
and scholar. She is the editor-in-chief of Cha: An Asian Literary
and an editor of the scholarly journal Hong Kong Studies.
Her first poetry collection, Hula Hooping (Chameleon Press), was
published in 2015, for which she won the Young Artist Award in
Literary Arts in Hong Kong. Her second poetry collection is Too
Too Too Too
(Math Paper Press, 2018) and her first collection of
stories is Her Name Upon the Strand (Delere Press, 2018).
Tammy is also the author of Neo-Victorian Cannibalism: A
Theory of Contemporary Adaptations
(Palgrave, 2019).

Evolved Ruin

No one told me to form a clean tight fist
as though enraged or ready to fight—

this way, blood is easier drawn.
Who knew veins migrate? Like love

they can be elusive and thin.
On the brink of breakdowns or breakups,

many things go feverish, wrong.
I was unprepared to hold a deep breath

and a deeper grudge or to question
the loyalty from my caged heart's

chambers. We've never been promised
a full run of life on a manic train

of thought. Second chances expire
but tonight the impassive streetlights glimmer—

I shall be on my best side when the view
is still there, still tender.

Functionless Password

I could no longer put on earrings
to appear uninvited on Zoom:
everyone talked about experimental
poetry and my four piercings

would let nothing in. My ears
gave up, all but breeze passing through
and my eyes were shut, coffins
with a thousand nails

in the lids. Closed eyes can't catch
gliding birds
. Imagine the screaming
of the pupils. They travelled
across open hearts and oceans.

My transatlantic lips merged,
gummed together like in a rehearsed
totalitarian film or a deadly love affair
with irreproachable characters.

I have a mouth but I won't speak.
My tongue curated a silenced
hurricane in my mouth; it
swallows prancing footnotes

and first sentences. My moaning
used to fill sonnet sequences,
now no sound, no entrance, no flowers
that burst
. Finally, my nostrils

barricaded. I lived on the wrong side
of the romance and had my last
breath. Every ending that ends,
ends only partially formed.

Luck Lends

May you live knowing you are not perfect. May your days be filled with stitched memories. May your conscience be always conscious. May love be your lesser concern. May you kiss with lips that are not bruised. May light bulbs go out above you when you run out of kindness and dignity. May your messages still be read decades from now, in distant parts, on different anniversaries. May your famines have bookshelves. May you be understood not too quickly. May you earn paths for yourself in an improvised chronology. May purposeful pauses punctuate your conversations. May others' betrayals be your basest form of education. May you finally find out your happiness mustn't be abducted. May your fingers master whatever they touch. May you open more doors and walk through them, and let others do so too. May you have secrets that are worthy and wrapped snugly around your neck. May your heart count its modest beat at all hours, especially in your sleep. May your endeavours to move minds and appointments never go to waste. May the endings of narratives you care about stay unspoiled. May you always find necessary matches but not equivalences for the words you are seeking in another language. May ignorance be your bliss when you are sometimes muddleheaded. May heroes stand not merely in the light as on stage but in quiet action, and we protect them. May your vision grow and glow and yet you remain aware of your weaknesses. May you never need to forgive and if you do, you do it making a funny face. May you take issue with every translation that goes unscrutinised. May the sight of a plane stimulate your fantasies. May you possess the ability to mourn instead of pounding a tub and singing. May the right tissues in your body pleasantly swell only for the deserving and arduous few. May you hold a deceptively mediocre position in society but spectacular ones in other contexts. May you underline every simile in life and justify it. May you continue to believe with conviction that you carry the city you come from like a vital organ; you are never without it. May small acts and bannered phrases of resistance work. May you keep writing like a healthy waterfall keeps keeping on. May you wake up one morning and resign to accept that all is rhetoric, lucid dreams in a stone. May you make it new through recombination, reoccurrence, and revolution. May you last quite a while, devouring timeless moments.

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