ABOUT THIS PROJECT
If you love me, say it at odd hours of the day and night, with your hand on my face or arm. These poets spell it out in moments of ecstasy, tinged with fear and from the deepest vulnerability. Young or old, each voice enters love as if for the first and last time, mining for meaning and celebrating the timeless paradox of impossible completeness.
Cyril Wong is the Singapore Literature
Prize-winning author of Unmarked Treasure and Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light.
When it was my turn to buy
a dining table, shared days
became measured to fit married life;
I had to throw window-shopping
out the door and learn to grow
into each other’s promises
as we settle for a love called home.
by Loh Guan Liang
Loh Guan Liang is the author of the poetry collection Transparent Strangers (Math Paper Press, 2012). He is also the co-translator of Art Studio (Math Paper Press, 2014), a Chinese novel by Singapore Cultural Medallion recipient Yeng Pway Ngon. His poems have appeared in various journals, including Crack the Spine (US), Enizagam (US), Mascara Literary Review (Australia) and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. Guan Liang currently lives in Singapore.
blooming in our blackened beauty
ascending sunlight draped in black
conjoined through a ruse of light
tongues scraped in consonance
words swallowed and refusing to part
we enjoy such pomp of past regrets
by Mish'aal Bin Syed Nasar
Mish’aal used to spend his working hours behind a very thick piece of glass. He writes, acts and plays music.
back to poem
The music of the spheres in midnight
farts; angels sing through blocked noses;
the tussle for the never-big-enough blanket
is silent; our bed never too small
for us as we lie sprawled like headless
carcasses on a butcher's slab; open
mouths and grunts for snores; soon to awaken
to a world of burdens and bills
with putrid breath, puffy eyes and the promise
by Krishna Udayasankar
Krishna Udayasankar is the author of The Aryavarta Chronicles, a bestselling series of mythohistorical novels, which has received critical acclaim. She is also the author of Objects of Affection, a full-length collection of poetry (Math Paper Press, 2013) and is a guest editor of Body Boundaries: The Etiquette Anthology of Women’s Writing (The Literary Centre, Forthcoming, 2014). Her poetry and short fiction have also appeared in international anthologies.
At the edge
we depart like leaves
in a downward spin
we are our own canoe.
Even as we drift
toward open seas,
with you, blue skies
reach beyond the ocean.
by Mira Song
Mira Song completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne. Her poems have been featured at the first International Poetry Festival in Prague, Israeli literary magazine Iton 77 and the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore.
back to poem
Tiada lagi arah
hendak ku tuju.
Ke tujuh petala langit
dan tujuh benua
Kerna utara, timur,
selatan dan baratku
ada dengan mu.
I should go.
To the seven heavens
and across seven continents,
I'm bitten by longing.
For my bearings
lie with you.
(English translation by Raimi Safari)
by Raimi Safari
Raimi is a struggling, professional doodler.
If words have grown too
heavy, congealing on the tips
of our tongues, then stop and help me
to dance, hems of my body
flitting lightly across the ground
at your touch, painting gold circles
bright as sun flares that blur the sky
behind your smile.
Then we will be quiet enough to love.
by Tan Lixin
Lixin's debut collection of poems Keeping Skeletons was released in April 2012. She is the founder of Wallflowers, an art journal, and she also dedicates her weekends to volunteering in a shelter.
EVERYBODY'S GOT TO LEARN SOMETIME
I wonder if, like me, you realised
that even happiness lasts
like that moment at the bus stop: when we saw that car
racing past, before it grew smaller
towards the horizon, its fumes
still lingering in the hot air.
I wonder if, like me, you thought
that was some kinda goddamn beautiful, although
(hah!) you just grumbled about the weather, while I wondered when
either of us would learn how to drive.
by Daryl Yam
Daryl Yam is an aspiring writer of prose and poetry currently studying English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. His work has appeared in Ceriph, Esquire (Singapore), Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, QLRS and a number of anthologies. He is currently working on his first novel.
It’s in the words you say
Like wine from your tongue
That sweetness, the body
Swivelling with hopes
I take in each drop
Red faced and giddy
It’s lifting me steady
And I drink till I’m gone
Lost down your rabbit hole
by Aishah Abu Bakar
ishah Abu Bakar is the Programming Manager of Moving Images at The Substation. She runs the film programme, including organising showcases and screenings, like the Singapore Short Film Awards, the Experimental Film Forum and First Take. She had previously been a film traffic coordinator for the Singapore International Film Festival (2007, 2009), and has had a hand in television productions for Mediacorp’s Channel NewsAsia and Suria.
THE OUTER EDGE
at the outer edge of time
in that place between
being and knowing
there need begins
a sudden vagueness
sharpens into recognition
that absence of
let’s soften the etymology
call it, love
by Chandran Nair
Chandran Nair recent publication was his collected poems, Reaching for Stones (Ethos Books, 2010). He was founder President of the Society of Singapore Writers from 1976-1981. He lives in Paris.
Maybe I’m Just Gone on Rosé
Today I noticed two things: that the sky turns purple
deep into the night, and that the head of a red rose
had wept itself in a Heineken can on the dining room table.
Sad that these things weren’t mine, I cried you my dream
of holding a wilted flower to heaven, adopting a pose
to beg tears and half-drunk hugs. You held me, then, I started
noticing inner things twisting like vines, in knots: a wrinkled
sky redressing itself in shades of vinaigrette, and a remnant
of rose lodged in my ear. I turned deep pink, your unbidden
buds beating in my wrists –– I could be yours. This close.
by Michelle Tan
When she was 13, Michelle Tan wrote a silly poem to Chopin entitled "Fantaisie". Nine years later she is reading Music at King’s College London and doing creative writing courses on the side. Michelle grew up working with the local bookstore BooksActually and curates a personal selection of poetry at pocketpoem.
Here is my truth: mornings feeling
like my shoulders are a cage
of bones bound by metal chains, every
roll and stretch a cacophony of singing edges
cracking against each other in some Herculean
effort to keep my body functioning, when
every shift under your skin is a rising
tide that possesses all possible beauty
and leaves me capable of only (be)longing.
by Jollin Tan
Jollin is a writer who does not yet dare to call herself a poet, and who feels weird being called Jollin instead of Jo. She loves cats and sings when she can find time to. These are the things she loves too much to quit: balance, love, words, music, cats, food, and sleep. Very occasionally, she feels fabulous enough to attempt being a rock star.
I am a leaf. You are a tree. I have waited many moons
to be where I should be. There is a miracle in spring,
in seeds, in gardens of soul. Lie among dreams in tune,
on repeat. We sway back and forth while the wind brings
to be where I should be. There is a miracle. In spring
I am a leaf; you are a tree. I have waited many moons
on repeat. We sway back and forth while the wind brings
in seeds. In gardens of soul, lie among dreams, in tune:
by Tse Hao Guang
Hao Guang is interested in form and formation, creativity and quotation, lyrics and line breaks. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ceriph, Coast, QLRS, The Ayam Curtain, This City is a Strange Song, Microcosmos, Symbal, Petua, Obscured.sg, Wallflowers, after|thought, OF ZOOS, 24 Flavours: Century Egg, and Lontar. A chapbook, hyperlinkage, is forthcoming from Math Paper Press. He can be found at vituperation