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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.

Pushed Over

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

Man resting on a bench


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
Freedom is nailed

Old lady resting

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

Workers resting

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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