Poetic Licence: "Remembrance Day"

Welcome to Poetic Licence – a weekly poetry forum, hosted by us, featuring words by local poets. This week? A return by Fiona Tinwei Lam.


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Remembrance Day

In front of his sons, my grandfather

crumpled on a Hong Kong street under a rain of kicks

and blows by Imperial Japanese soldiers.

His wives and daughters poised

to smear their faces and bodies with shit,

their only shield against another Nanking.


Now, clips of Vimy Ridge on television,

trenches, tanks, marching,

explosions in sepia, black and white.

Scenes of bombers droning like oversized flies

above a recent kill. Cities on fire.

Each labels the other side devils

while scorching homes to hell.


Downtown, a ceremony--

the choir sings its youthful grief,

a crowd, umbrellas, light rain,

the bugle's clear line of yearning

calling out to what continues

in Aghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Myanmar--

years of accumulating

death. A vigil to wait out the worst

we can be to each other.


Fiona Tinwei Lam has authored two books of poetry and a children's book. This poem originally appeared in another form in her book Enter the Chrysanthemum (Caitlin Press).

To submit your own poetry to Poetic Licence, email editor@westender.com with “Poetry Column” in the subject line. Include your poem, full name, contact details and bio. Only those selected for the column will be contacted. .

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