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May Chong



the poet

May Chong, a Chinese/Malaysian poet and speculative writer, has had her work featured in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, adda, Parentheses Journal and elsewhere. She enjoys spoken word (watching and performing), birdwatching and terrible puns. May's nature-themed micro-chapbook, Seed, Star, Song, is available as part of Ghost City Press' Summer 2020 series.

the poems

You ask the soil
if you belong

00:00 / 02:10

                        What has always been whispered

                        through other leaves grows bold,

                        thunderclaps laterite-red:


                        Transplant, hue and clay,

                        your roots never the right length.


                        not hybrid, weed

                        not plant. Be silent

                        and show some gratitude

                        for this flowerbed,

                        for being at all

                        allowed. If you protest,

                        tear up taproots

                        and leave, raw

                        mandrake words and all.

                        Never mind how

                        we were all planted

                        once upon a time.

                        One more time.

                        The loess left behind answers

                        come home. You will be welcome

                        and warm, one with brethren

                        abandoned before seedcoat thoughts.

                        Come home, you must

                        return to ancestral yellow,

                        mellow alluvium

                        where no others are allowed.

                        (But you have already torn/

                        been torn tongue

                        from stem to survive.

                        You feel the way you will

                        wither, alone in a field

                        of pinched heads.)

                        Rocks whisper from where

                        black dragons tumbled them


                        In your sap runs neverbelonging,

                        mountain thrust into monsoon.

                        We are all of us guests

                        from nowhere. The knowing

                        makes it easier to bear

                        the stones.

                        And still

                        you want.

                        You awaken. Again

                        you ask the soil if you belong,

                        and you should not be

                        grateful for silence. Yet

                        you are.


00:00 / 01:11

                        Grant me space secured

                        with key, myself and I. Walls

                        of my own creation, closest

                        to a one-man hug. A floor

                        to take a stand on, because

                        the letting in has meaning. Give me

                        granite and blood concrete

                        before those who have ripped

                        'moment' and 'wait' and 'just'

                        from their dictionary. Swallow

                        the deep diggers who think

                        keys are only for those

                        in hiding. My time has its meaning,

                        its rhythm and combinations

                        because bolts in the head are trouble

                        and padlocks through the heart

                        are worse. Ask the selves

                        I debrided, husbanded, ribs toothed

                        like tiger traps. Vulnerability

                        has meaning, meaning let me

                        slam the door closed

                        and fling it wide to let

                        you in, you

                        who means something.

And even now

00:00 / 01:19

                        A radish waxes defiant

                        in the asphalt below JR Osaka station’s

                        pedestrian bridge. A man thinks

                        of its rich tresses,

                        his granddaughter, the last time

                        he felt like smiling.

                        Near Wangsa Maju, a moth flies

                        into a packed LRT. Small as hope,

                        alive. A whole carriage holds

                        its breath until it lands on

                        a Bangladeshi worker's chapalled toe.

                        Some nameless brown bird gurgles

                        into the rain-soaked morning.

                        Soon there will be sun

                        and wind enough for everything

                        to dry gorgeous.

                        Silence is learning how

                        to unlock love, unlock

                        tears from behind teeth,

                        loose them with the gasp

                        of something born anew.

                        You learn from your elders how to make broth

                        from the good bones of a world

                        and still,

                        and still,

                        and still—

Publishing credits

You ask the soil if you belong: Bending Genres (Issue 19)

Lockdown: exclusive first publication by iamb

And even now: Banshee (Issue 12)


S h a r e

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