Heidi Wong


you lose seeing the snow melt one last time.

lose your corner room in the gray cement building,


lose friends, lose childhood, lose new york, lose

him. you witness distance spreading


beyond distance. you learn

distance becomes distance by feeding


on your ability to see it. all it takes is one person

to give up. he takes the jewels of your irises


and says i don’t care. you try to starve,

but the dead brother inside your stomach


demands food. the grief

just won’t cut it.


isolation wraps around your neck like a lover.

would you leave, even if you could? where would you


go? two weeks later you are so yourself

it’s frightening. hope sinks


into your skin like light. at night,

sometimes, only sometimes, like a blade


scraping away gemstone fantasies. would you

leave, even if you could? where would you


go? your home

that was never your home bursts


into flame and you are at the beach for daddy’s birthday,

pretending your friends aren’t losing their fingers to gunfire.


you say be careful when you mean

i love you.


you say when they bring out the gas start running when you mean

i love you. you say don’t be a hero when you mean


i can’t lose you,



a man dies on camera. and across the pacific

an orchestra of coarse, frozen throats begins to remember


it still has a voice to speak with. a voice

stretching to silver lakes, casting the shape of the future.


maybe heaven births itself

from the mouths that mourn your absence.


maybe death is the only commonality

mankind can agree on.


a black man is murdered on camera,

and one of the officers wears your uncle’s face.


your uncle who boards the flight and does not return

till two years after nana gets lowered


into our motherland. he comforts himself

in a white man’s country, thinking


she wouldn’t have remembered me anyways.

the last thing nana called for was her son.


a girl who looks like you,

could have been you, is


you, bleeds in the street. they call her dirty chinese,

and it’s the first time in seven years you wished


you were white. your western home

threatens your eastern home


and you go to sleep wondering,

if you had to gouge one of your eyes out,


which would you choose? pray

for the rustle of autumn in clinton.


but normal is a hand with missing fingers,

the new family that never learned your name.


you know you can, someday might even,

for real this time, unashamed this time,


without fear this time,

love. but what good is that now?

Heidi Wong is a poet and artist who grew up between Beijing, Hong Kong, and New York. Since posting her poems online at 15-years-old, she has developed a unique voice that juxtaposes surreal and macabre imagery with intimate and beautiful language. She was the winner of the 2018 Button Poetry short form contest, and the winner of the National Art and Calligraphy Competition of China for 6 consecutive years. Now, she continues to share her work with her audience of nearly 1M followers. Her third collection, Turning to Wallpaper (Central Avenue,) will be released in the fall.