INSTINCTS #15: ‘Bloodwork Mandarins’ by Deborah Wong

Happy November everyone!

This month’s INSTINCTS poem comes from Malaysian writer and recent Horror Matsuri contributor, Deborah Wong. Enjoy 🙂

Bloodwork Mandarins

Deborah Wong

for the executed wandering spirits

I’d weaved too many ancestors dreams,
succulent and salty blood in drips,
land being stolen, drenched in mad fears,
the fate is to erase history—colossal of wishes
in flames and coldness, the Ying and the Yang,
requiem for the unsung heroes—the farmers,
infested with calluses and centipede blisters,
an overnight massacre, coiling souls to roam—
hanging by the branches, teasing fallen twigs,
enticing the age-ripe mangrove swamp,
river current flows in excruciating red,
be watchful for scapegoats, unlucky ones
appeasing hungry souls, the desire to liberate.

I harvest roses by the impromptu thicket,
beguile ignorant strangers, the backpackers
preying on fortune and bliss for entertainment,
white chrysanthemum petals dredge to absorb
energies of the dead, from eating nectarine hearts,
little girls reminiscing the elders, mud smudging
on dolls complexions, blushing and smiling
always want to play, yearning to be remembered,
legion of names embossed at the tomb stones,
mandarin peels coiled in bittersweet pulps,
whiffs, sniffs and inhales—eyes widened,
a vengeful hundredfold, gone but not forgotten
one lunar eclipse, another fateful meet.


Deborah Wong graduated from the University of London with a Bachelor of Laws, and attended the summer intensive creative writing workshop at the University of British Columbia. Her work has appeared in local and international magazines and journals, including Liquid Imagination, Strange Horizons, Frozen Wavelets, Blood Bath Literary Zine, Eye to The Telescope, The 2020 Rhysling Anthology and forthcoming in Australian based Twisted Moon Magazine.

Twitter: @PetiteDeborah
Instagram: @deborahbie

Work Published with INSIGNIA STORIES:

Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles (Insignia Drabbles Vol.2.)

Horror Matsuri 2020: ‘House #197, Argyll Road’ by Deborah Wong

Other posts on this site:

Author Spotlight: Deborah Wong, October 6th 2020

An ebook collection of the Horror Matsuri 2020 works will be released on November 26th. Now available for pre-order from Amazon!


Featured photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

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