After Jim Moore

If like a Buddhist I accepted the world
as it was given, without judgement,

does it mean I would remain unmoved
by any atrocities, any tragedies?

Karma gives birth to snakes, swine,
songbirds. Step out of one life

and come back as another,
a woman with an enigmatic smile

was once a man, a pauper or a prince,
the possibilities are endless.

A girl from the old neighborhood
is murdered, and before death, tortured.

In The Metropolitan Museum
Buddha turns inward, eyes downcast.

 “Turn around! The bitter sea knows no bound.”
A shout from the dark that says

what’s bitter is not life, only emotion.
But Issa, practitioner of detachment, too, doubted.

What are words if they can’t sing
dirges, when even the crows are crying out.




Pui Ying Wong was born in Hong Kong. She is the author of a full length book of poetry Yellow Plum Season (New York Quarterly Books, 2010), two chapbooks: Mementos (Finishing Line Press, 2007), Sonnet for a New Country (Pudding House Press, 2008). Her poetry collection An Emigrant’s Winter was published in 2016 by  Glass Lyre Press, and she won a Pushcart Prize in 2017.  Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Southampton Review, The New York Times, Crannog (Ireland), Gargoyle, The Brooklyner, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong), Pirene’s Fountain, and Valparaiso Poetry Review among others. She is a book reviewer for Cervena Barva Press in Somerville. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, the poet Tim Suermondt.


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