Issue 51 (January/February 2020), Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine. Photo credit: Oliver Farry
Emergency And Its Secrets | Tammy Lai-Ming Ho
Emergency is a myth. Emergency is eternal. Emergency breathes. Emergency repeats. Emergency is when a bird copies another bird in distress and flies into a hole in a tree of secrets. Emergency cries wolf. Emergency makes piercing shrieks of everyday sounds. Emergency imitates life and attacks reality, and worse, creativity. Emergency may be avoidable, available, capable, scalable, and sealable. Emergency sings or sighs or sins only occasionally. Emergency is some people’s religion. Emergency encourages hasty reading, reinterpretation of the centre and the theatrical and the spherical and the peripheral. Emergency can give birth to new lives or put them to sleep forever. Emergency has a wide range of intensities, languages and political situations. Emergency does not flirt. It does not know the landing procedures. Emergency forces us to ask questions:
1. When do you think they will stop checking people’s boarding passes or press cards when entering Hong Kong International Airport? Have we accepted this as an inevitable hoop to jump through and that there is no point questioning it or even bringing it up? Freedom is foregone drop by drop. This is a drop.

2. When does a surface, static or moveable, become a Lennon Wall (or Lennon Anything)? Must it have post-its? Is monochrome also okay? Must the messages on them be eligible to a certain percentage of passersby? Is its defacement part of its definition? Must it need to be seen to exist?

3. What has happened to the art of lying? Why do the government think we will blithely believe so many in Hong Kong have chosen to end their lives in the most predictable ways: death by drowning, by falling. We are not so gullible. Or perhaps they have lost even the decency to lie better.

4. How to look into the eyes of someone whose political views are different from yours? Pityingly as though she has the cancer of ignorance? Fearfully because she might verbally and emotionally attack you? Or lovingly like a daughter to her mother who may still be ‘converted’ one day?

5. Why do we seem to find some foreign journalists more or less ‘credible’ than others when reporting about Hong Kong? What qualities are they expected to possess for them to be considered good or bad? Is it language? So-called ‘objectivity’? Proximity to what is happening on the ground? Ability to tweet often?

6. Will we ever run out of colours, wavelengths that the eye can detect, to remember an event or moment related to the protests? Some say colours are infinite. Some say we can see about 10 million colours. So, no, colours won’t run out. Patience won’t run out.

7. When does a piece of garment become important? When it is made into a flag and waved in Hong Kong. Is it illegal to fashion a dress out of a Chinese national flag? Can it be made into some sort of tablecloth? Can we iron it, shred it, piece it back together poorly, and call it art?

8. Can we dream it now? Can we dream the triumph of the people, who refuse to be unthinking dolls and puppets? Can we dream that we can enjoy freedom, as assured as the night sky before morning comes? Can we sleep, naked or in comfortable pyjamas, without worrying about tomorrow?
Emergency revolves and evolves, each reboot more potent. Emergency sometimes stares at us and sneers. Sometimes it is timid, sometimes rigid, and at other times it’s an unknowable jerk. Emergency is not original. Someone may die, some building may fall or catch fire, some plane may crash, some revolution may not happen, some people may be beaten on a train, a generation may be awakened to question their government. Emergency is not on its own: it has friends dearest to humanity, closest to your hopes. Emergency is shape-shifting and wears a childish shirt. Emergency is not always fit for its job; it needs to go to the gym more, or talk to Lucifer about the beauty of earthy dawn. Emergency is often inadequate translation that no one wants to acknowledge and further circumvent and circulate. Emergency does a voiceover to a film whose setting, context, and sexual affiliation we never know. The key to understanding emergency is to know it is fabrication and fascination: we know everything about it already and it is shallow. Emergency is a moment of inspection, inspiration and insomnia, and it makes it through, with some accountability. Emergency can be rearranged into nothing in the age of globalisation. Does emergency have a face? Overgrown and overthrown, but ceaseless, like seagulls picking at their food. Emergency is not responsible. It does not need to be. It has already left for the next expedition and experimental project. Our life, now, maybe defined by the supreme design of the emergency.
/// POETS featured in the Emergency section: ◉ Reid Mitchell (three poems) ◉ Lian-Hee Wee (one poem) ◉ Gino P. Paradela (two poems) ◉ Eli Hsieh (one poem) ◉ Paul Lobo Portugés (two poems) ◉ Jacqueline Leung (one poem) ◉ Jason S Polley (one poem) ◉ Alan Jefferies (one poem) ◉ Jennifer Anne Eagleton (one poem) ◉ John Leake ◉ Dongli Liang (two poems) ◉ Felix Chow (one poem) ◉ Kate Rogers (two poems) ◉ George Richards (one poem) ◉ Low Kian Seh (one poem) ◉ Akin Jeje (one poem) ◉ Rae Rival (one poem) ◉ Miroslav Kirin (two poems) ///