Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tammy Ho

Going To My Parent’s House On A Crowded Bus

I’m sandwiched by two unattractive men
on a city bus to the land of sky
and water. An hour’s crossroad journey
from one home to another -
Outside: The metamorphosis of high-rise
glass buildings to fragile trees.
Inside: Ten pairs of eyes staring
at my breasts involuntarily pressed
against the back of a seat.
My lungs absorb enough foul-smelling
air recycled from people’s breath
to choke a fatal enemy. Dignity
I sacrifice for several hours
with my family.

Previously published in Spoken War

Dinner Table

The two of you bellowed to each other in
fiercest intellectual insults.
An unsuccessful chaperone I was. I shut
my eyes to listen to an orange horse gallop
on, not too clumsily, a bed of golden-
brimmed grass shooting north.
Forks dueled with knives, glasses clinked
and licked. Already? Back to the dining
table, together you laughed, mouths open
wide to park spaceships.
Ever since I used that word 'love',
both of you repeated it
ad infinitum, adorned with other crude
lexemes, as if all of a sudden a child
was allowed to play with Daddy's lighter.

This Be The Postcard Poem

I pretend to be a postcard poem,
being denied the side of the stamp.
(It's fenced.) Let the address be short--
I hate fighting for space with a country
name that is accidentally polysyllabic.

The picture on the front is a deaf fly?
a beggar? or a bowtie? Perhaps
nonchalant bedcovers. (I know not
what.) It's like a single eye peeping,
edgily, at its lid.

I hope the recipient likes this poem;
and forgets (only just) that the man
who sent it has nothing to say
from afar, or nothing to sigh
about, either.

Both previously published at Lunarosity

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
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 – her invisible doppelgangers –
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.

In the Summit Of Greying Snow

A poet died in the summit of greying snow.
He wrote about ordinary families,
and the human’s subconscious wish
to be short-lived, fast-mated insects (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
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.

Both poems previously published in Mascara

1 comment:

James Owens said...

Tammy: I like all of these and will be on the lookout for more of your work. Especially strong is the ending of "Dinner Table" --- reminding me a bit of Rilke, the unexpected but perfect image that rises from the context as correlative to everything that has come before....