crossing the bridge©papa osmubal

crossing the bridge©papa osmubal

agnes vong

there used to be only one bridge
it had a name
but people simply called it ‘the bridge’

a second bridge was built
it also had a name
and in order to distinguish them
people called them the new bridge and the old bridge

now another bridge has been built
it also needs a name
and people are puzzled by what to call it

taxi drivers are more puzzled still
when the customer asks
‘ging sankiu, via the new bridge, please.’

it was the same with casinos
once ‘dou cheung, casino’ meant the Lisboa, Pou Geng
but now you could point in any direction

with bridges even three is too many
now—whether it’s bridges or casinos
we have to remember the names

with only one or two of anything
people can keep their minds clear

but three is a big number to count to

and so finally, people remember
the second bridge
is called ‘yao yi, the friendship bridge’

but friendship with whom?
that’s even harder to remember

…but we can try

once there was a little country
in Europe
and there was a celestial kingdom
and a little ship set sail


the composer

buddha©papa osmubal

buddha©papa osmubal

the composer
agnes vong

incense for Buddha
the only order in this pig sty

drink makes blur of reality
sickness of the heart

light burns brighter
the mountain turning grey

my final symphony
a prayer

my orchestra
carried away by a sparrow

and delivered to Buddha
burning incense for me

first appeared in Mascara Literary Journal

yinyang hotel

watch on the wall©papa osmubal

watch on the wall©papa osmubal

yinyang hotel*
agnes vong

a mixture of water and milk
so the Chinese say

it sprang from a fragrant, milky bath
a white towel wrapped her black body
heat sucked up the water
sweating, gasping

a local paper, with compliments
women from afar
in red and black
smiled sweetly at his Rolex

under the blazing sun
half-naked men covered in mud
scaling bamboo, to and fro
sweating, gasping

first appeared on Mascara Literary Journal


aubade ©papa osmubal

aubade ©papa osmubal

agnes vong

eastern glow
nest rustling
whistling shepherd boy

lambs play
hilltop cotton
sheepdog shaped

sheep strolling
muddy crook prints

south wind
empties fields
blows grey

mist descends
lonely shepherd eyes
north star

funeral march, no mourners*

urban weeds ©papa osmubal

urban weeds ©papa osmubal

funeral march
no mourners*
agnes vong

a small hut in the grass
by the reeds in the river

the eldest son
caught an eel
but it had to be thrown back

the second son
looked after the chicken farm
culled all of them

now just the youngest son
plays with a chick
— the one that got away

vegetables, rice— all that they ate
even their shit is poison

* from The Drunken Boat


gargoyles ©papa osmubal

gargoyles ©papa osmubal

agnes vong

I’m a rat
I sniff

weary legs shuffle along in darkness
nose glued to the grassy floor
smelling food and foe

high above
my swift cousin ambles over the sky
wings almost motionless as she meanders
with the river
eyes down
our reflections meet in the water
an echo of the forest
quivering in cold moonlight

just one step
and I can reach for
the pool of shimmering stars

* from The Drunken Boat

lover of fairy tales

at a macau park ©papa osmubal

at a macau park ©papa osmubal

lover of fairy tales
agnes vong

evening light
a valley of shadows

secrets between my footsteps and
the tangled bushes

a twig from the first branch
for the ash girl

a red apple
for the snowy white girl

a magic door
for the nosy girl

at the end of the valley
my grandmother’s grave

* from Poetry Macao