Tammy Ho Lai-Ming – Two Poems



The Chinese understand leftovers.
How food can be made over into other food.
How whatever’s left in the pot can be reused,
cooked into something random, humble.

That women still unmarried
in their early thirties or beyond
are called sheng nu
literally the ‘left-over ladies’.

And why 61 million children
have been left over, left behind in villages
by parents seeking work in cities,
living in cramped spaces, eating leftovers.


When a pigeon in flight
crashes into a passing train,
its feathers disperse like messy confetti,
and seconds later, its mangled body
can be found on the platform,
where curious children,
not knowing to feel sorry,
poke it with a stick.

Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty is being able to speak the truth. Two plus two make four. Beauty is an appreciation and acceptance of the fact that our life is finite, but that our experience, knowledge, thoughts can enrich this finite life. Beauty is waking up to a warm sun and knowing that there are more poems to be written. Beauty is recognising that all is not lost, and that there are those who will fight for beauty in the lives of others.

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born editor, translator, and poet. She is the founding co-editor of the first Hong Kong-based literary publication, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and an editor of the academic journal Victorian Network. Her translations have appeared in World Literature Today, Chinese Literature Today, and Pathlight, among other places. She is currently an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, where she teaches poetics, fiction, and modern drama. Her first poetry collection is Hula Hooping  (Chameleon Press). In 2016, she received the Young Artist Award in Literary Arts presented by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.