Three poems by Jennifer Lee Tsai


    Another Language


When I speak in Cantonese,
I’m almost a different person.
Louder, brighter.
The seven tones, ascending,
descending like musical notes.

My grandparents,
leaving the fragrant harbour
of Hong-Kong, the Pearl River of Guang-Zhou
for the dream of a better life in the West –
what did they make of English?

Alighting from the liner at the docks
in the rain, hearing Liverpool accents
for the first time –
two gold koi
swimming into the Mersey.



    Last Night


I dreamt of you again
there in that Victorian house
draped with ivy and wisteria
by the lake and the park
an attic room overlooking
a garden gone wild
bramble      red clover      nettles

an array of sash windows
criss-crossed with bars
on the outside and inside
the frames dusty with cobwebs
a White-Witch moth

the room filled with smoke
and candlelight      perfume of juniper berries
no furniture      just a bed      an old turntable
a mélange of Rameau and Beefheart    
cherubs on the ceiling
and up the alabaster walls



    An Old Flame


Lately she can’t stop thinking
of him again – their brief dance
when her amber dress flared
up in the night like a match –
struck, then quickly extinguished
before the fire started.


Jennifer Lee Tsai

About Jennifer Lee Tsai

Jennifer Lee Tsai is a poet, editor and critic. She was born in Bebington and grew up in Liverpool. Jennifer is a fellow of The Complete Works, a Ledbury Poetry Critic and Contributing Editor to Ambit. Her work is published in the Bloodaxe anthology 'Ten: Poets of the New Generation' (2017) and her debut poetry pamphlet is 'Kismet' (ignitionpress, 2019). In 2019 she was awarded an AHRC scholarship to undertake doctoral research in Creative Writing at the University of Liverpool. She is the winner of a Northern Writers Award for Poetry 2020. Find Jennifer on Twitter: @JenniferLeeTsai and Instagram: @jenniferleetsai