Nicholas Wong



I would not have misread all women were gerunds, if

I would not have confused tests with testes, if

I would not have been called national disaster, told to learn gymnastics of the tongue, if

My tongue would not have rolled, curled then flattened like names also words otherwise every-wrecked-where, if

I would not have trusted English common nouns, called myself Hope, Waiting, Sorry, Air or Human, if

You would not have worn a face so critical it collapsed, if

I would not have believed in a mask’s weeping, if

My lips would not have felt redundant, yet inadequate, if

The reality would have stayed inside your perception, if

I would not have needed to unlock some layers of that reality, if

I would not have said I would change sin, if

By that I would not have meant I would change first, if

Either way, the change did not happen, if

James Baldwin would not have said people could cry much easier than they changed, if

That day would have gone fine, or however you liked it to be, if

To love would have been to undress your name, if

I would not have been an inheritor of hurt, if

I would not have been a book opened just to relate to a desk, something words had nothing to do with if


Nicholas Wong’s Crevasse will be published by Kaya Press in Spring 2015. He is a finalist of New Letters Poetry Award, Wabash Prize for Poetry, and recently, the poetry contests of Tupelo Quarterly and Better: Culture and Lit. New work is forthcoming in Barn Owl Review, Fifth Wednesday, Grist, Los Angeles Review, Salamander and Southern Humanities Review. Based in Hong Kong, he is an assistant poetry editor for Drunken Boat.