Issue 21 – Winter 2011 – Nicholas Wong

Nicholas Wong



“Creativity comes from awakening and directing men’s higher natures, 
which originate in the primal depths of the uni- verse
                                                                             I Ching


                                                                                             Qian (Sky)

                                                                                    secrets – servile 
                                                                                    & mildewed 
                                                                                    for their unspoken-ness – 
                                                                                    wait for the wind that blows 
                                                                                    toward the ditch  
                                                                                    so they can dwell in the dirt-ether

                                                                                    hide in a turret uphill 
                                                                                    & wish not 
                                                                                    to be mentioned 
                                                                                    the shame of being forgotten 
                                                                                    like the sky 
                                                                                    always there when a head raises


                                                                                             Dui (Lake) 

                                                                                    oxymoronic name
                                                                                    locals call it hell lake      after 
                                                                                    a tourist slips & boils herself in the water


                                                                                    her skin peels off 
                                                                                    naturally            like a snake’s

                                                                                    the proximity to death
                                                                                    & aliveness is simultaneous
                                                                                    steamy lake surface –
                                                                                    a cinematic martial

                                                                                    art moment
                                                                                    a master swings a sword 
                                                                                    to bisect the lake 
                                                                                    the radius of which 

                                                                                             Li (Fire)

                                                                                    roll a cigarette 
                                                                                    with a manuscript 
                                                                                    – manure –

                                                                                    words wiggle better 
                                                                                    in prosody of smoke 
                                                                                    puff on the reddened face 
                                                                                    of an anemone –
                                                                                    or anyone –
                                                                                    petals grow pinker with nicotine 
                                                                                    then go ashen grey

                                                                                    listen in silence how tobacco 
                                                                                    crackles like wood on a bonfire  


                                                                                             Zhen (Thunder)

                                                                                    flashing of corpuscles 
                                                                                    copulates with corpses of memory

                                                                                    having sex with the dead is good
                                                                                    they never complain – and 
                                                                                    if they do – how
                                                                                    optional orgasm follows
                                                                                    moaning            loud as thunder

                                                                                    between connubial mountains


                                                                                                Xun (Wind)

                                                                                    the wind is tired
                                                                                    of the active

                                                                                    voice (silenced)

                                                                                    for once in its life
                                                                                    it wishes to fall

                                                                                    for the passive 
                                                                                    as in has been
                                                                                    brushed                       as in 
                                                                                    has been blown


                                                                                             Khan (Water)

                                                                                    the lotus misses the wind

                                                                                    the ego of petals spoiled
                                                                                    to be royalized 
                                                                                    but the water understands why

                                                                                    she has met the wind – 
                                                                                    once – which quickened the slowness

                                                                                    of her tides 
                                                                                    – a push – a pull – 
                                                                                    a tug-of-war rendezvous  afterward
                                                                                    three blouse buttons left by the shore


                                                                                             Gen (Mountain)

                                                                                    keep the words in the fridge 
                                                                                    they rot at room temperature

                                                                                    carry them to the mountain 
                                                                                    & set free each of them at the apex

                                                                                    when language reaches 
                                                                                    the deep dark troughs   the wind

                                                                                    will be a courier 
                                                                                    each syllable delivered

                                                                                    to whoever 
                                                                                    should have been reached


                                                                                             Kun (Earth)

                                                                                    Press 1 for a human voice
                                                                                    Press 4 for nature
                                                                                    Press 23 for fish songs
                                                                                    Press 39 for historical speeches
                                                                                    Press 6 for blacks
                                                                                    Press 10 for survival 
                                                                                    Press 92 for political correctness
                                                                                    Press 71 for 7Eleven
                                                                                    Press 220 if you miss phone cords
                                                                                    Press 220# if you wish phone cords were not spiral
                                                                                    Press 54 for lasagnas
                                                                                    Press 8 to know what your ancestors used to eat
                                                                                    Press 16 for joy
                                                                                    Press 43 for emotions that existed before joy
                                                                                    Press 777 for fortune 
                                                                                    Press 88 to buy time
                                                                                    Press 13 to hear God
                                                                                    Press nothing to remain unchanged
                                                                                    Say navel button to hear yourself



Nicholas YB Wong is the author of Cities of Sameness (Desperanto, 2012). His poems are forthcoming in 580 Split, American Letters & Commentary, Gargoyle, Interim, The Jabberwock Review, The Journal, Natural Bridge, Quiddity and Weave. He is the recipient of Global Fellowship Award at ASU Desert Nights Rising Stars Writer’s Conference in 2012. He reads poetry for Drunken Boat. Visit him at