Coco Huang: 'Tongueless'

Coco Huang reading ‘Tongueless’

My first tongue I ate myself,

swallowed with 苦泪 

when I said the sky was green, not b(绿)

and they laughed first, then kicked

 

the moon

has bruises too, 你看 – 

one from hair too short for braids

two from eyes like slits in dough

–and yet it glows,

多么美丽


if only I were as brave

if only I were as pretty

 

new tongues grow like duckweed

innocuous leaves buoyant, while

sucking roots sip from the deep


how sweetly他 slips to “he”     | 我 slips to “me”

 

no thanks to my poor gardening

I speak with a stump,

blunt-axed syllabic swings

inflected with self-loathing


why should I speak, when

silence sounds wiser?
.


.


.


eins, zwei, drei

in the silence, I sow and reap

ein Zweig wächst dabei

I coax new tongues to speak

io posso, voglio, devo

but borrowing bears bitter fruit

 

my tongue is a stranger

a stranger in each tongue; 

wǒ zì jǐ yě bù míng bái


Glossary and Transliterations

Chinese

苦泪 – kǔ lèi: bitter tears
绿 – lǜ: green
你看 – nǐ kàn: look
多么美丽 – duō me měi lì: how beautiful it is
– tā: he
– wǒ: I/me
wǒ zì jǐ yě bù míng bái – I don’t understand (it) myself

German

eins, zwei, drei: one, two three
ein Zweig wächst dabei: a branch grows (meanwhile)

Italian

io posso, voglio, devo – I can, I want to, I must


Coco X. Huang is a Chinese-Australian writer, musician and scientist. She enjoys reading and writing experimental fiction and poetry and her work has most recently appeared in The Lifted Brow, ARNA, and Hermes. She was a participant in the Citizen Writes Project 2019 and received a 2020 Faber Writing Academy Scholarship. She tweets @cocoxhuang.

Felicity Yiran Smith: 'Winter'

Felicity Yiran Smith reading ‘Winter’

那年的冬天,
My bird died.
My first death,
虽那么微不足道.
I buried her tiny frame under the snow,
the barren trees vigil in the garden.

春天的石榴花格外灿烂.

Sometimes,
我依然惦记着
the clear and green sound of
那只鸟的歌谣.
So I cup blossoms in cold hands,
剥去冬天的泪痕,
Listen,
天下的一切都
叽叽喳喳的唱出
their thirst for summer.


Glossary and Transliteration

那年的冬天 (na nian de dong tian): that year’s winter
虽那么微不足道 (sui na me wei bu zu dao): even though it was so insignificant
春天的石榴花格外灿烂 (chun tian de shi liu hua ge wai can lan): the pomegranate flowers in spring were especially brilliant
我依然惦记着 (wo yi ran dian ji zhe): I still reminisce about
那只鸟的歌谣 (na zhi niao de ge yao): that bird’s song
剥去冬天的泪痕 (bo qu dong tian de lei hen): peel away winter’s tear tracks
天下的一切都 (tian xia de yi qie dou): everything under the sky all
叽叽喳喳的唱出 (ji ji zha zha de chang chu): noisily sing out


Felicity Yiran Smith is a current student of Creative Writing and Ancient History at the University of Melbourne. Born to an Australian father and Chinese mother, she enjoys writing in both languages as part of exploring her racial identity.

Grace Feng Fang Juan: ‘Wei Wei (喂喂*)’

Grace Feng Fang Juan reading ‘Wei Wei’

Du-du-du
Circulating the infinity.
Wei Wei
Your familiar tone
Swings upwards.
Wei Wei
I mirror the warmth.
Through a spider web across the sea,

I imagine
That is how our breath
Sinks into the big white noise:
Thin, frail, in permanent repair.

Du-du-du
Waiting is longing.
喂喂                                                                                                                              

You radiate through the winter thickness.                                                    

Wei-Wei
I hide behind a poster of surreal heat.
I imagine
Your nose tip taps on my eyebrows gently as if touching invisible foams.

Du-du-du
Longing is remembering.

喂喂                                                                                                                       

Silence.
Memory rewound
Into a paper dragonfly.
Inert atmosphere, minimal wind.

Wei Wei
I am incapable of making a sound,

Inhaling like a broken jellyfish.

Du-du-du
Remembering is reimagining.
Wei Wei
I project your hair with reduced sheen,
White strands flow among the myrtles at the balcony. You freeze the petals in an old smart phone,
Send it to me
In prompting immediacy.

喂喂                                                                                                                           

You are the flowers, you are the petals.                                                                    

You are the continuum of morning rays.                                                                      

You tell me.


Wei Wei                                                                                                                

I am the petals of the myrtles.                                                                         

And I am the petals of your myrtles.

I say.


Grace Feng Fang Juan is a writer and filmmaker based in Melbourne. Actively engaged with the multilingual and trans-cultural space, she writes in Chinese and in English languages, exploring the in-between-ness and fluidity created by her diaspora experience through poetry, essays and arts reviews. She has written for the ABC and Peril Magazine.

Rachel Toh: An Auntie’s Warning

Rachel Toh reading ‘An Auntie’s Warning’

An Auntie’s warning
to the Singaporean Chinese girl who can’t speak her mother tongue:

你吃马铃薯长大的啊? /you jiak kantang growing up ah?
You don’t know this saying? You jialat la.
Because only Angmohs eat potatoes, Asians eat rice.

ஐயோ/ 哎哟/ aiyo,  cannot tahan you leh, you always ponteng class isit?
Or you think English more atas? Next time go work, you confirm kena.
I think you better just popi to God that you marry a sibei rich guy and be a taitai.


Glossary and Notes

‘你吃马铃薯长大的啊? /you jiak kantang growing up ah?:
Did you grow up eating potatoes?

(Some people say this phrase in Chinese, some mix other language as in the second variation.

Jiak is Hokkien for eat

Kantang is both a Hokkien and Malay word for potatoes.)

You jialat la: You’re going to be in for it.

(Jialat is both a Hokkien and Teochew word for ‘draining strength’, which translates to ‘you’re going to be in trouble or you’re in a terrible situation.’

La is a Singlish word that’s used a lot at the end of sentences.)

Angmohs: a Hokkien word for Caucasians

ஐயோ/ 哎哟/ aiyo,  cannot tahan you leh, you always ponteng class isit?: Aiyo, I can’t stand you, did you skip class all the time?

(Aiyo is a Tamil word which has been absorbed into the Singlish vernacular, where it is used interchangeably with the Chinese aiya, both of which translate to ‘Oh no’ or ‘Oh dear.’

Tahan is a Malay word that means you can’t stand or bear something/someone.

Ponteng is a Malay word used for skipping (class or work).)

Atas: A Malay word that literally means ‘above’. It’s commonly used for describing sophisticated or upper-class people.

Kena: a Malay word that means ‘suffer’.

Popi: a Hokkien word for ‘pray’.

Sibei: a Teochew word for ‘very’.

Taitai: a Chinese colloquial term for a wealthy married woman who does not work.


Rachel Toh is a Creative Writing and English Literature undergraduate from the University of Melbourne who has learned to revel in her identity as female and Singaporean-Chinese since moving to Melbourne.