once, my dad was given a teapot
for a work gift, cold and ceramic
and antique, complete with tea
stains in its tannin-sludged depths.
its painted scene was a sweet oriental
pasture, complete with smiling
china girls picking rice, their dainty
hands brushing. it was only a few
days later that we noticed the bite
marks on their necks, and following
that, the blood in two stripes down
their chins. i searched for hours
trying to figure out who they were,
some myth that made sense. i never
did find out, but i often ponder it—
those pin-pricks of iron, so sweet on
their faces, no more amiss than stray
swipes of lipstick. whenever i bite
my lips bloody, or hold a body
knife-sharp to mine, i like to think
that i do it for them. and besides—
nobody would think anything of a
little blood on a lady’s bed sheets.

Cadence Chung is a poet, mezzo-soprano, and composer, currently studying at the New Zealand School of Music. Her nationally bestselling chapbook anomalia was released in April 2022 with Tender Press. She also performs as a classical soloist, presents on RNZ Concert, and co-edits Symposia Magazine, a literary journal for emerging New Zealand writers. In 2023, she was named an Emerging Practitioner by the Fund for Acting and Musical Endeavours. She likes to sing Strauss, write art songs, and buy overpriced perfume.

Cadence comments: 'I guess part of it is actually truemy dad really did once know this guy who would give us a variety of strange antiques, the absurd little teapot included. I found myself wondering about its past, and not the usual antique questionswho owned this, who loved this, in what situations was it usedbut rather, why it had ever been made. And then all the allure of these beautiful Chinese vampires became irresistible to me, bad apple asked me for a commissioned poem, and it all just happened. A very generous friend, when I first sent it to him, said it was about "the mysteries of the past that suffuse the present". I still have a huge egg-shaped thing that the man gave to us, painted with an Oriental scene. And I call myself an Oriental princess sometimes, as a little treat.' 


​Poem source details >



Cadence Chung's website

Āporo Press website


Photographer credit: Ebony Lamb