Hilary Tam


No crimson-lipped smiles without
Bloodshed. Our prayers hanging on citadels
As sacrifice. Do you think heroes are hoisted
Onto shoulders, celebration sung like
Scripture, without entrails marking their path? Houses turned into synonyms
For abattoirs. I can’t tell the metallic
red between tongues from jostling
Copper in your sleeves. So many children
Wilting at the mouth of a gun. Hearts
Trampled by troops, weary bodies stacked on trains
To foreign lands. See, this inferno
Is just an ink-bled chequebook. Forgotten women pressing infants
To their bellies, because a mother will be the only home
They will ever know. Bared teeth
Scattered like pebbles. Footsteps becoming fissures
In the pavement. The people’s hearts are strung into one
By flagpoles: look how with every fallen body they are dying,
Again and again. Say, is it
Worth it? Hear how crowds are begging that just for one short twilight
Rubble isn’t currency and sleep isn’t surrender. Singed flesh
Sweet between cigar exhales. Shattered cities. Scream-fused
Zephyr. Contracts pinging in bank accounts, sealing fates. Ripping
Man from his teeth,
wearing them like laurel wreaths.


Hilary Tam is a writer from Hong Kong. Her work is published or forthcoming in Analogies & Allegories Literary Magazine, Fahmidan journal, The Lumiere Review, Trouvaille Review and more. In her free time she can be found playing (and losing at) sternhalma, poring over literary magazines or taking long walks. She is on twitter @hiilarytam