Through the Lens: Prisoners of an Island

Original poetry written in Chinese

Through the Lens champions creativity and collaboration. In this recurring series, we invite a poet and a photographer to capture Hong Kong from new perspectives.

Mother says she’ll take me to the streets We’ll wear clothes that wick sweat, tighten our laces, carry bright backpacks Mother says she’ll take me to the streets Lunchtime sunrays pierce through bridges I fall asleep transformed into a slumbering khaki-coloured bear as though in a cocoon turned into a cobblestone that gets carried upstream in a polluted, gurgling river which now flows through my heart Bills of electricity, of water, of credit cards – unpaid Saving the most for rent Now we don’t trust food vendors, we don’t buy pork In these turbulent currents my right shoulder is like the wind, like the silent rain My calmest, most detached, most uncontrollable little body Is only awake when at home Mother has not taken me to the streets

Mother says we’re right here at home


The city has prepared a simple bed for you Multiple sides, limitless square metres, flashing lights Air serves as your bedding, no pillows When you walk, you are in a void When you work, you are dreaming When you rest, you are fleeing   The city has prepared a coffin for you Because you can never cross the barbed wires The fences form the walls of a steel house You are stuck outside Nailed

Freedom is nailed

Something In Nothing

She has climbed the wild mountains, eaten bullets She has dug up roots in the field when famished She has almost died in gun fights She has drifted in the sea of exiled hope From partitioned apartments to subdivided flats, her hair grows white She has discovered the stability of being on edge A pushcart that isn’t hers, decorated with gold-tinged garbage The glass walls of glamourous buildings, wiped ‘till they shine In the end, she owns a precious red flower Which she holds in the palm of a vein-lined hand Like a dry piece of wood in a drained riverbed

Begging her not to slowly, slowly, decay

Unfamiliar Patterns

When Spring disappears We have already assigned slots of confinement Summer starts nursing its hidden rash All the time off breeds aching shoulders and bald heads The totem ignored by the wise Is like Autumnal leaves Which seize time as they fall The whole wide world eats Oil stains and black smoke accumulated for years Layers upon layers of filth Guaranteeing life Even on a warm day in Winter We don’t have to talk to each other

We don’t need to know the other

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