Tammy Ho Lai-ming

Tammy Ho Lai-ming, aka Sighming, is a Hong Kong-born and -based writer. She is the editor of HKU Writing: An Anthology (March, 2006) and a co-editor of Word Salad Poetry Magazine. Tammy’s creative works appear or are forthcoming in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Macao, New Zealand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, and Great Britain. More at www.sighming.com.



In This Massive Hallway

In this massive hallway the mahogany
reception desk is guarded by a woman of
mixed ancestry. The owner of a well-trimmed
moustache, an old man, told me he
has been hanging out there for more than five years:
too long, indeed, too long for his original to wait,
and he died of lung cancer. The old man has five
poems: three on canoeing, two
on the Canadian poet-cum-singer Leonard Cohen.
I am newly sent to this New York journal armed
with three petite prose poems: one on fishing,
two on post-postcolonial Hong Kong. My original,
naive and expectation-laden, is sending numerous mes
to different magazines, e-zines and whatnot. Us –
all of her invisible outer doppelgängers –
carry her manuscripts and wait, sometimes for days,
sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months, for
responses from editors. We haunt waiting rooms,
store rooms, nearly-empty rooms, forgotten rooms.

(This poem appeared in a different form in 21 Stars)


In The Summit Of Greying Snow

A poet died in the summit of greying snow.
He wrote about the realistic unordinary angst
of ordinary families, or vice versa,
and the human’s subconscious wish to be short-lived,
fast-mated insect (no mid-life
crises). Some envious poets thought aloud
to each other: oh it was wonderful to die
in the sacred cold, don’t you think? The icy weather
effortlessly formed a natural tomb for the sealed
and healed spirit. Other poets took up the task
to console the poet’s wife: her cream marble face
scarred with two non-parallel one-way tear tracks.
At the funeral, the wife asked the poets
to recite a poem of her husband’s – any poem
from any period of his writing career would do,
she said. Even the insect poems, she added.
The request drained away all sounds in the hall
in which the coffin was appropriately centred.
No one present, except the wife, had read
the poet’s poetry, and they called themselves
members of the same community of practice.

They spent too much time complaining at meetings
about the shrinking of the reading public
in the junk-layered village and being jealous
about other more successful writers –
mortal enemies.