Two Poems by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho
Genres of Love
In a crowd, when we laugh,
you look at me first, to ascertain
if I am also laughing, having fun,
looking at you.
The other day you lent me
your favourite poetry collection.
In it, you added
a little piece of paper, which reads:
I hope you love the poetry that I love.
We debated if something readable
is better than something reclusive.
Narratives intersect and in the end,
nothing is comprehensive. Multiple
anecdotes explain distant pasts.
You untangle my ambiguities,
tell me it is okay to be conflicted,
and that each era produces lovers
who don’t know love can be parodied.
I said, do you think you’re wise?
You said, our genre of love needs it.
I miss you
like a watch misses
being strapped to an antique
wrist; like a pair
of reading glasses
with round wooden frames
misses printed words
in a collection of prose poetry
by an old Asian American
writer who knows
not everything must be
about racing and race;
like a wall in Hong Kong
screaming decay and democracy,
now covered up
by heavy strokes of grey
impermanent paint; like
a snowed-in road
misses the early signs of spring
so its tarmac surface can be seen
in its grandiose ugly urban glory;
like a luminous and poetic window
shut for too long misses
a hand to push it open to prove
it has always, always,
had it in it to let
in more light, more air;
and like a vacuum cleaner
misses dust everywhere,
which is what we are,
to which we will one day return,
to be dusted off the Earth.
About the Author
Tammy Lai-Ming Ho is a Hong Kong-born editor, poet, translator, and scholar. She is the editor-in-chief of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (asiancha.com | chajournal.blog | hkprotesting.com), the English-language editor of Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, and an editor of the academic journal Hong Kong Studies. She has edited or co-edited a number of volumes of poetry, fiction and essays, including Desde Hong Kong: Poets in Conversation with Octavio Paz (2014), Quixotica: Poems East of La Mancha, (2016), We, Now, Here, There, Together (2017), and Twin Cities (2017). Tammy’s translations have been published in World Literature Today, Chinese Literature Today, Drunken Boat, and Pathlight, and by the Chinese University Press. Her first poetry collection is Hula Hooping (2015), for which she was awarded a Young Artist Award in Literary Arts by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Her other books are Too Too Too Too (2018), Her Name Upon the Strand (2018), and Neo-Victorian Cannibalism (2019).
Photographs taken by Lai-Ming Ho.