Jill Chan

Jill Chan was born in Manila, Philippines. She migrated to New Zealand in 1994. She has two books of poetry: Becoming Someone Who Isn’t (Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, 2007), and The Smell of Oranges (Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, 2003). Her work has been published in Poetry New Zealand, JAAM, Trout, Takahe, Brief, Blackmail Press, Deep South, Southern Ocean Review, foam:e, MiPOesias, Tears in the Fence, Blue Fifth Review, Asia and Pacific Writers Network, and many other magazines.




There was a woman who wore nothing but silences. All the men would bring their words to her, make her dream
without sleeping, next to the loudest scream. How each of them would pronounce their words like a body running
into language, full weight of vowels and purse of lips.

And in the farthest hidden corner where not even silences could exist, a rolling of thoughts into flame. A game of
never ever losing, hot rays, and runs always near enough to win. No worms, no forms of death to worship or deny.

Neither the woman nor the men went there to stay. They visited a few times a year or if they could, every second,
but couldn’t stay longer than that. Time lay down to dream in that corner.

They took from there the loud gazes, and went home with their words like a body running out of language.



When we first met,
you were living
in that stone house.

Salt air, strong winds.
You stood afraid of nothing.

Is fear just a turn
towards many destinations,
fulfilling none?

I could just as well stay here
in my house of straw,
drawing near the sky,
filling the ground with feathers
of abandoned flights and starts.

Where you are,
I have no chance of following,
now that the years
have become stone,
heavy, edgy with character.


The Poet

You are always the poet
with no ending,
with an ever-present way
of continuing,
looking a little shy, perhaps,
about making too much sense
with too vast a purpose,
how we try to remember
every beginning
that dares to become another,
a suddenness
beyond quickening,
to arrive like the many shapes
it makes of appearances –
your word calling to be written.