Nothing on Adorno


by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Adorno was a very stern man, we agreed,
after studying his selfie. Sitting on a stiff chair
and facing the mirror, he had no discernible emotion
in this broadly-circulated black & white photo.
You said: ‘You call me stern. I’m nothing on Adorno.’

I’ve called you stern, a constellation of times.
But when your big eyes are half their size—
when you are drunk despite your denials—
you think it the most natural thing to dance,
to amuse me, and you are not stern at all. At all.

Not to mention when you’re conversing
with your male friends—always,
after contributing a witty, worldly remark,
you issue out generous beads of laughter
that are explosive, childish, disarming.

You also cannot possibly be stern, for example,
when you are naked with post-coital cock,
and me resting my head on your firm chest,
listening to you read liltingly in low light
from Jim’s now familiar letters to Nora.

About the Author:

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born writer currently based in the UK. She is a founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and an editor of the London-based Fleeting Magazine and the academic journal Victorian Network. She edited Hong Kong U Writing: An Anthology in 2006 and co-edited Love and Lust in 2008. Her own work has been widely published in print and online and she has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times and the Forward Prize. She is finishing her PhD thesis on Neo-Victorian fiction at King’s College London.