Kimchi Lai

Kimchi Lai

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the poet

Kimchi Lai is a bilingual poet based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She has performed at Urbanscapes 2018 and 2019, and won third place in the 2018 Asia Pacific slam at Lit Up Festival in Singapore. Kimchi's work has also featured on The KITA! Podcast, as well as Speak Easy on BFM. She self-published her first chapbook, Solace in Solstice, in May 2019. 

the poems

Waxing Moon, Waning Lover

Featuring《水调歌头·明月几时有》by 苏轼

00:00 / 02:21

            明月几时有?把酒问青天。

            Tonight, the moon is full.

            She smiles at me, her gaze illuminating

            the glass in my hand as if she knows

            I wish it was you I am holding instead.

            不知天上宫阙,今夕是何年。

            I wonder if we have met

            in a different dimension;

            or if we will meet in heaven.

            我欲乘风归去,又恐琼楼玉宇,高处不胜寒。

            I would sit with you

            under an arbour in the gardens. Surrounded

            by pillars cut from the finest

            of jade and sharpest of teeth, protecting

            us from the fierce winds that try

            to blow us apart.

            起舞弄清影,何似在人间?

            But the air is still tonight, and you are not

            by my side in this life. So how dare I wish

            for your presence in another?


            转朱阁,低绮户,照无眠。

            The moon comforts me

            from my window. She is trying

            to coax me into slumber.

            不应有恨,何事长向别时圆?

            “You see”, she whispers to me. “I shine

            brightest in the face of longing.

            What need is there for my light

            if your lover radiates enough warmth?

            What need is there for a full moon

            if you already feel complete?”


            人有悲欢离合,月有阴晴圆缺,此事古难全。

            Perhaps I will never see

            your crescent smile, or hear

            your gibbous laugh again.


            Yet I know this: we are under the same sky.

            And now whenever the moon

            waxes or wanes, I will know it is her saying

            that you are thinking of me.

            但愿人长久,千里共婵娟。

Fatal Blossom

00:00 / 01:00

            The sprig of leaves I planted

            the first night we spent together

            bloomed today. You cup one

            in your hand, petals the deepest

            shade of sunset at its final

            second before plunging


            into dusk, haphazard

            but stunning. Ignore the thrum beneath

            your feet; the tangled vines that pulse

            and hiss with poison and hidden

            truths cannot hurt you as long as you keep

            me near. Let them creep quiet


            and swift the same way nightfall creeps

            upon day, curling around

            your crown to whisper sleep

            into your temples. Do you


            understand? This garden started out

            an angry mess of ivy – it was never

            supposed to bloom. Do you like


            periwinkle? Focus

            on the flowers. I worked

            so hard on them.

Romantic Sentence

00:00 / 00:53

            Words are unconfined, not meant

            to be held. But once in a while

            I will get lucky and manage

            to catch some at the tip

            of my pen, just long enough for me

            to string them into

            an ink necklace. Alive with earnest

            grammar and passionate vocabulary;

            every dotted 'i' and crossed 't' quivering.


            Staining my fingers in haste I drape it

            around your shoulders, fasten the ends

            with a full stop. The letters startle

            at your warmth, smudging

            slightly. They tumble downwards

            in my clumsy locution and catch

            at your collarbone. The same way my breath

            does in my throat when I see them sigh

            and settle into your skin; dark blue

            biro etched across your chest.

            Oh, sayang.

            You were meant to wear these words.

Publishing credits

Waxing Moon, Waning Lover / Romantic Sentence:

  Solace in Solstice (self-published)

Fatal Blossom: exclusive first publication by iamb