Read time: 2 mins

Rumah ibu & the riot, the bodhisattva

by May Chong
11 July 2022

Rumah ibu


No home without the heart

of the woman, the quivering

keepsake of meat. Bury it beneath


the proudest pillars, house mother,

roof across her shoulders. Set her

feet in your kitchen, breath in your air-

well. Glass the windows with her watching,

learning to watch and be watched, watching

out for too many watchmen. How delightful/

frightful to be watched.


Paint over her past until

the monitors demand it stripped bare

in sacrifice. Sink in


the bathroom her voice, dripping

violet acoustics, hollow echo over

the slurry of all things flushed

with pride, shrieking shame.

No home without the shame

of the woman, passed down,


heirlooms of years long drowned. Without

her bones picked and puckered, peace

sucked out the marrow. Without her spine


heaving sudden,

ceiling cracking synovial, drumbeat rising

through the floor. No home without you folded

into foundation; only room

for the woman to grow walls again.


the riot, the bodhisattva


sans lotus or halo, hallowed feet tread

these bleeding streets. Not so lofty yet

to disremember human grievances,

bloody and splendid, swept up


in the swelling clamour

of raw hearts talking back

for the first time. Clad

in chrysanthemum yellow, ash

and rage, facing down

the architects of their suffering

with battered biscuit tins, raised

fingers, insistent in refusal

to submit. Hope blooming brilliant

from the muck. When they are crushed,


their soft and bloody faces

drip clean with mercy’s dew.

Some warm voice surrounds them:

It’s all right, you’re

not alone. Someone

heard you cry.


About the Author

May Chong

May Chong is a bi Malaysian poet and speculative writer with previous verse published in Fantasy Magazine, Strange Horizons, Apparition Literary, Banshee and Bending Genres. Away from the keyboard, she enjoys birdwatching, video games and terrible puns. Her chapbook of nature poetry, Seed, Star, Song, is available on Ghost City Press as part of their […]