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Straying outside humanity: Two poems by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

When the streets are stained sea blue, they are graven in time

An Attitude

“Hong Kong 831” by Badiucao

The words graffitied on columns and walls exemplify an attitude, not a lifestyle. At night, whoever chants protest slogans out the windows of their homes shows a belief in tomorrows. All types of dreamers in this city have the same dream. The batons no longer know how to differentiate innocent limbs. When the streets are stained sea blue, they are graven in time. Blood should course through the body, not congeal on concrete. When a group of people surrounds a building, it becomes an idol. What is a sign of this city’s inhumanity? A distraught young couple clinging onto each other in an MTR train begging for mercy. Fires built in the middle of the road are an ancient signal calling for help. The person who cries knows the strength of torrential rain. Whoever thinks of home is reimagining it. Time progresses, but it has also been stalled for months. Love can happen when the city turns into a ruin, or rises.

1 September 2019

Stray Thoughts

"Scenes From the Hong Kong Protests" photo taken August 31, 2019, published September 6, 2019 in Rolling Stone

Can you think a thought without thinking of the thinker of the thought? When we make a judgement about a thinker of a particular thought, must we first understand the thought or the thinker? Can we accept contradictions as though they are tautologies? Is seeing the back of someone’s head the same as seeing their face? With an inquisitive, perplexed and scared expression? When we subjectivise death, is it because of a moment of depression or incessant loud shouts from intimidating figures in tactical gear who have strayed outside humanity? My eyes can witness but my hands and feet (手足) continue to climb the same mountain, every day, and thousands of incongruent umbrellas are eternalised into a rousing tapestry of protest songs. Come gas, come spray, come water, and whatever you shoot towards us, but don’t search our bodies to feel our contours, don’t shut the conversation, the gates, the doors. Our hands are linked, across this weary beast of a city, which breathes its explosive breath, weeps, rages, or sighs in pain, depending on the day. The hour of the day. Trust me, there is a compulsion of making something happen in this ill-structured, limited world. If Hong Kong could write a book, it would be a blood-stained treatise of our history to be read by many, or, fed into absolute and sublime fires that, right now, are still burning: bright, wild, and glorious.

9 September 2019