What I Think You Have Said

My ex-lover accused me of twisting
his words and I said not my fault.
I put the blame, as naturally as
breathing, on my sister, who invented
a silly game one insipid night in Tokyo.
In the mellow yellow hotel lights, half-
enjoying the over-cozy linens, we were both
as sleepless as the city’s neon signs, meanwhile
we found the language on TV irritating,
not because it was foul (we wouldn’t know
even if so). There was just something explosive
about the Japanese language, filled with convulsive
consonants, the ga, the ka, the pa and the ba
simply repeated themselves after themselves.
So we muted it and dabbed the dialogues with
what we wanted, or what we thought should be said.
My sister took all the lines from women (or any
woman-like creatures in the case of anime), whereas
I spoke for the men and the like. Since then,
I discovered the pleasure of language reinvention
and legitimately mistranslating everything, turning
the content of one language into one that speaks
to me and mine. We played that game all night long.
I liked hearing what I wanted to hear, and
what not if I decided to be displeased. The world
suddenly and only had one tongue and one voice.
That’s why I wrote poems, among which there
was one about my ex. That’s why he could not stand
and understand me. That’s why I started this poem
with him but ended it with X, Y, Z.

Nicholas Y. B. Wong is a Hong Kong-based poet. He has recently won the Oblongata Contest Award and has been nominated by Asia Writes for the Best of the Net 2010. His poem “Lives” has been shortlisted in 2009 Chroma International Queer Writing Competition. His work appeared in The Sentinel Literary Festival Anthology 2010, Poetry Super Highway, The Centrifugal Eye, Asia Writes, Taj Mahal Review, The Q Review, Qarrtsiluni, and Fifty-fifty: New Hong Kong Writing, edited by Xu Xi (2007, Haven Books), among others. He is currently an MFA Candidate at the City University of Hong Kong. Visit him at http://nicholasybwong.weebly.com.

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1 Response to What I Think You Have Said

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Like what you captured in this poem; this whole notion of how we acquire language and at times, how some things can be lost in translation.

    Nicely done and expressed here, Nicholas.

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