Official Causes of Death in a Chinese Prison
by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
A exhausted himself arranging sunflowers.
B drank too much hot water.
C suffered a heart attack passing a toilet roll to his comrade.
D lost his breath while playing hide-and-seek.
E was poisoned from the ink in the newspapers.
F stared too long at the air.
G used high-lead-content hand cream (supplied by his family).
H edited a literary journal named after a beverage.
I said I too often.
Singing in bed, J’s throat burst.
K drowned in a mud puddle.
L was allergic to the fabric of the uniform.
M died in a fight with another inmate.
N lost balance and fell off bench.
P died after squeezing pimples on his arms.
Q simply failed to wake up.
R’s tongue was tied.
Toothpaste squirted into S’s right eye.
T tripped on his own slippers.
U said You too often.
V died in a fight with another inmate.
W thought he was the Party Secretary.
X missed a letter from his wife; she’s waiting for him with dust.
Y’s collapsed after walking miles in his cell.
Z also edited the literary journal that H edited.
Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born writer currently based in London, UK. She is a founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal.