Name: Lynette Leong
country :
bio: Lynette was born in New Zealand and is of Malaysia-Chinese and Hong Kong-Chinese descent. She is currently studying towards a BA(Hons) in English at the University of Auckland and has completed poetry and short story writing courses with Albert Wendt and Witi Ihimaera. She is also involved in editing an anthology of short stories by new writers called SPECTRUM 1, which will be published late this year.

Jo !
Tea with God

My mother sits down to tea
with God every
by candlelight.

She takes hers without milk,
two sugars;
he takes his with starlight,
Milky Way.

Over clattering cups they talk
of family,
how their children
are. Sometimes she’ll tip

her soul out to him
like hot brew from a spout
or offer to read his leaves,

Together they’ll watch
the dark go back,
of their one-days.

Qing Ming

From the incense you see their spirits
rising, thin and wispy with hunger.
They greet you by nose, go alveolar
deep – drawn on by your breath

and blood. In the background mum
growls at your brother for pocketing
conkers, which may have been someone’s toe
or heart or eye –

later you will both stamp your feet
on the roadway to shake
their grassy hairs, their muddy
grip from your soles –

but now, who do you talk to?
The God of Wednesday
morning assemblies who killed
his son (gave him up)

for you, for you, for you;
or Buddah, sitting glazed green
above the doorway;
or Yee Por’s daughter

hoping spirit smoke condenses
words to pure meaning? You try
them all, breathing the heavy
sweetness of chrysanthemums, rice wine,

singed char-siu – or Jie’s thigh on his outstretched
palms, smoke of the mountains and his mother’s
legs curled tight around his stomach
like fat on flesh.

You do not remember this as you eat
your cold meat and drink your hot tea
but think of who she would
have been at eleven, eighteen,

forty four. And driving past, white
faces against electric windows
horrified and hungry
at the sight of a picnic in the cemetery.

* Qing Ming is the ‘Clear and Bright’ Festival. During it people pay respect to their ancestors by visiting graves, burning incense and offering food to the dead. The origin of Qing Ming is a memorial ceremony for Jie Zitui. According to the story, Jie was an official who was loyal to Chong Er, one of the King’s sons who was exiled from the Jin Kingdom during the Period of Spring and Autumn. Jie saved Chong Er from starving by cutting the flesh from his own leg and cooking it for him to eat. When Chong Er finally became King of Jin, he rewarded many people for helping him, but he forgot about Jie. Saddened, Jie went into the mountains with his mother to live a life of seclusion. When Chong Er was reminded about Jie’s loyalty he invited Jie to come to him, but Jie refused. Ching Er set fire to the mountains to drive him out, but Jie never came. When the fire had finally burnt out, Jie was found with his mother on his back lying under a willow tree. Both had burned to death.


threads its way
into trees messily, a seven year old
(with very tender thumbs) just learning,
pricking and bleeding down the branches


or else passionate smudges on the collar:
goodbye! goodbye!
summer murmurs against her jaw.

(or even in between) the last green leaves
eye the blushed, as if they were lucky swells
in white cotton blouses -
wishing and dreading the flight,
            the fall.


those green fragrant eggs are spilling
down the lawn
rolling rolling
for the damp where they will mottle
and rot
so quick
gather them up
heave those rustling foodtown bags
up the porch steps
onto the kitchen table
crack them open
with a spoon or your
teeth and gorge their grainy
sweetness into your memory
because death
that sniffing old wasp
hangs by the steel sink
watching you eat


you run
the gauntlet
or just walk briskly

down queen st,
eyes ahead,

clasped still. there’s
a man

to the footpath
from the auckland
city weather (cloudy,

won’t get above 5 c,
mean wind
blowing from all

directions). he tempts
like a st lukes ride,
a beanied daffy:

silver for a dance
gold for a song.
oh, go on.

won’t you give
him your gum

so he can at least
scratch his