Year of the Fire Rooster by Deborah Wong

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Narrated by John C. MannoneYear of the Fire Rooster by Deborah Wong

I feel trapped like ginseng in a venti jar,
Chinese dates losing its battle to circulate
the warring blood of my ancestors. Mother fails
to re-construct facial collagen with bird nests.
Cordyceps are searching for new host to procreate.

You can never be good enough for the Fire Rooster.

I dream of swimming with lacquered puppets—
South China Sea to Pacific Ocean—eating oranges
making sure to spit out its seeds to avoid spawning
banana-speaking babies in the womb. I know a man
mocking Chinese calligraphy, ashamed
to admit his roots, and choosing not to learn;

believing auspiciousness is number eight.
Nine is longevity; two—a pair of chopsticks,
its accuracy to hold. Peanuts’ll never forget their skin.
Twelve zodiacs competing for their leadership,
a champion rat tricks the bull by sitting on its horn,
a feline is crowned at the right throne of the Pharaoh

as I eventually embrace the Fire Rooster inside me.


BIO: Deborah Wong was born in Kuala Lumpur, and raised in Subang Jaya, Malaysia. She has poems and stories published and forthcoming in Crack The Spine, East Jasmine Review, Streetcake Magazine, The Stray Branch, Eksentrika, Thought Catalog, Ricepaper Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Seagery Zine, Strange Horizons and elsewhere. Currently revising her slush drafts and working on a fictionalised memoir, she also has an artwork-poetry crossover project with an Australian emerging artist on Instagram at @bymarissam. Twitter: @PetiteDeborah. Instagram: @deborahbie.