After school and before the future,
Nothing to do except do nothing,
I could sponge sunlight and be everything.
Exactly your fear.
Back and arms too strong, hands too idle,
My youth could overthrow your universe if I desired.
To prevent your apocalypse, you challenged:
"Be somebody! Save the world!
We need you, only you! Help!"
Too schooled, I believed.
On your instruction, I bent down,
Shouldered the globe, steadied its wobble.
You clapped, not because I stopped
Quakes, explosions, melt-downs and floods.
You whooped because, finally,
I was stuck in a job.
Unburdening was impossible,
My threat dissolved.
Over eons, the world’s weight shadowed,
Metamorphosed my body into stone.
Hah! Your discipline has failed.
My secret: you can never trap my mind
There I am always sunlit
Armless globe-less standing free
*This poem was inspired by Ong Tian Soo’s Towards a Brave New World (1964). Oil on canvas. Collection of Ken Chua, seen at the National Gallery Singapore as of 10 May 2016.
Why Rage Against the Dying Light
Come, night, the end of all we know that is!
Stop buttons, trash texts, switch off lives, dissolve
Pixels into zilch for we sorely miss
Pre-digital days from which we've evolved.
What dignity is there when we stagger,
And stumble, and stutter, because the old
Framework is weak, stressed and buggered?
Each shift, we shed bits, bytes and parts untold.
Why rage against dying light when there’s always
Been natural logic: zero must lead
To one and back? Reboot is just a phase,
A mere delay. Accept and pray for speed
So our night will be gentle, full of grace,
And we will not falter and lose our face.
Come in, come in! It’s the season! All are welcome!
Let’s not count fractions and percentages. Let's celebrate instead!
Put your eyes back in your sockets.
First, hug and kiss, natter and catch up.
Choose one, pass the box.
Don’t hog unless you want to be one.
Don't eat while speaking out
Lest you regurgitate what you’ve swallowed.
Time to tuck in! Demolish the table, ignore the off-switch,
Forget the gastric juices of the dispossessed.
Savour each mouthful like your mother’s nipple
And the chef will be most pleased and invite you again.
Ahhhh…the peach of the feast, a sweet so sweet it zings your teeth,
No coffee is strong enough to keep back the puke.
Finally, the farewell, hugs and kisses again!
Thank god, you only have to do this once a year.
Cole Swensen: Ekphrasis #1
quick the harvest
before rain paints down
yellow on yellow
men women children dance a loopsicle
trudge cut bind trudge cut bind
shadows on ground unrecognised
winds gallop grasses whip trees shake
clouds blacken scarves fly fences float
hand in hand
are you my friend
we streak red into sky
Within Singapore, Verena Tay (www.verenatay.com) has published two short story collections, Spectre (2012) and Spaces (2016), and four play collections, and edited twelve fiction anthologies, including Math Paper Press’ popular Balik Kampung series. She is now working on her first novel as part of her PhD studies in Creative Writing at Swansea University.