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

S h a r e

© original authors 2021

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