We write like we cook, a pinch of salt here,
a drizzle of fat there,
fire up the stove, contemplate the color.
Some demand strict rules, others relish anarchy.
In the poetry book I am reading there is suffering,
there is love, ennui.
Poems shaped like a pyramid, a headstone, a line of rain,
stormy fields where blackbirds perch.
For me your poem,
the onion you lay line by line,
a hybrid thing both occidental and oriental
is a struggle against the void.
Hybrid like love cold, like love hot, like love open-ended.
What is poetry, just words out of thin air,
squall to calm, calm to squall.
We write through byways and labyrinths,
like a chef in a burning kitchen.
Near Daybreak, Silkworm
Dark rings of clouds circle.
Trucks hum on small streets,
pallets piled high like fortresses
but the mad kings are missing.
with sales catalogs, not news
from the long-departed.
Birds carry on as if touched
by fever, and the antennas
usually so busy are hushed.
Trains emerge from the depot
to the hour of iron and shrills.
A silkworm rears up
on my sleep’s wall, time rakes.
The wind so
still the trees
The cloud a
fur The era
in the present
it makes sense
I wear like
a bra so snug
Pui Ying Wong was born in Hong Kong. She is the author of two full-length books of poetry: An Emigrant’s Winter (Glass Lyre Press, 2016) and Yellow Plum Season (New York Quarterly Books, 2010)—along with two chapbooks. She has won a Pushcart Prize. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Plume Poetry Journal, New Letters, The New York Times and The Southampton Review, among others. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband, the poet Tim Suermondt. She recommends Hong Kong Free Press.