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Alvin Pang Five Poems


To struggle with the steep. To steep in the struggle; to zim in it, make room for, zimmering like a germane barge on the shoals of the senile, dubbed Danceswithdifficulty. Drenched, learning to swim the tidal collisions. Immersion, not sinking in nor jesusing the wavetop of muchness. Zyme/Zymo- indicating fermentation. Whatever the ithacas, the pretext, a void's usefully empty, no? But also itches: too appropriate appropriates. So a bit of sand in the sandal. A necessary document of frustrations. Stubs of stumblings past and to crumb. Sometimes juryrigging a salience, sometimes cloudy with a chance of raininess, some translucence, some tracer rounds. Knowing from time to time you hold the gun, worry your alloys. Not aloof, afoot. At least looking for fresh glasses. To hold place, sieve water, airlock the comingintoview. To make safe space for dangerous interactions. What mutters most when you can't sleep. What seams true. What you're sacred of.

Liang Court

Bright Court not bright enough, not core to the Core, so must be bettermargined rightleased into something brighter, nevermind this first of the Valley malls, nip of Nippon somehow so unfrequented as to support two sashimi counters and an altar to wagyu marbling in fullview carnality. For various new years’ eves the unsafely distanced lastminute steamboaters panicqueued for doublepriced tang-orh and shabushabu slices, their spawn frogsquatting around the doraemon screen between asahi and a&wrootbeer aisles. A sense of ascendable anotherworld; a basement trove of dependable weekend magic: seasonal fairs. tunacutting demos, sake for its own sake and why not that little bit more quotidian grace, the comely household wares, the magazines bedecked in hiri/kata and delectable food photos, the brochures vending kyoto and fukyoka, the dulcet cream puffs. Where for some the tongue first savoured the memory of snow, know without naming it, umami. Kino upstairs for a quick peak at the stationery porn. That persimmon facade. Their exclusive maki roll cushions. The wedding cars parked on the mezzanine fourth. The tour coaches lanehuddled precariously like belugas in a spa. The Clarke Quay razzers and riverlit quaffers a continental elsewhere. Everything shuttered now, made level, prosed. One last discounted tray on a bone-white shelf. That look when she, masked, deadpans you can still get our cakes at Taka when asked where they're moving to. For move all must. Some currency spent unawares. Some, maybe all joys, imported, duedated, dispensable. As good as any hollow herenow to renew this notice. Ahead of the rest of it. All lights dim. 



Open and shut, then, the way forward. Steep the nextgen in chic joyance and then at the right jangle gearshift to the races. A clean break! Somewhere between nocturnal omissions and the first pair of glasses, the tuition centre Sunday queues, say. Greenfield and bluesky thinking are well and good, but in this climate, and with our colours? Better to serve well, be the boon companion. The silent, wholly niche, where all is calm. Some corner of a void that is, forever. Placed, at least. That small blank hope, we can afford that much. So long as lines are drawn. 


Beware of exiting vehicles. They may trim your line of vision. They may interrupt your plans for a weekend tryst in room 409 of the Ritz. They may curtain sentience. Doctors may curse being called off the golf course. Sunlight basking in the wake of their Lexuses as they exit the club like hedge funds fleeing a tax. Beware, existing vehicles. Gone, the easy virtue of waking, the quiet confidence of single party seats, the small mercies of clean roads and unbroken tiles, scrubbed pavements. Gone, the clear dare of walking out of line, not watching where you are going. Beware the exit as vehicle. The grass may not be greener on the other side. There may not be grass. It may be greener but unwelcoming. It may mean shedding everything. It may spark joy.


Soon our little lives will be recounted by the trees. And every lamppost will convey our comings and goings. To tally our faults the angels will need only ask a window, or peer through the unblinking eyes of noonsun and moon. What then, we watched and wary, wrought with rules we did not write? Why, squint at heaven, dance before glass, laugh transparently as we walk beneath the towering crowns, gleefully, inexplicably, lost.

The roar of a mob

The roar of a mob reminiscent of machines of war, or agriculture. A maw into which one slips an arm and a leg one wants forgotten, like a lover's last admonishment before vanishing at dawn into new due bills. Is there such a thing as a fiesta for introverts? The way Hong Kong pulls into itself the cloak of its own weather, billows blood and hoarse throats inward, scouring the streets of calm? Children rubbing tear gas deeper into their eyes — indistinguishable from tantrum. Black masks to thwart the sacrificial intelligences. The endless mobile calls to stop, stop, stop work school life an accounting for...for what? The callus of too much calculus, as it is. Tear up the ledgers, what mobs mean. The seduction of thrum, refusal. Turn over and till. From the grave furrow new bones grow. 

Strutting through the Queefdorm

Strutting through the Queefdorm, blocking the blue reel of the cloud parade, the Precedent of Flaked Mews dishevelled the last of the old tepees with his blunderbluster, brandished like a megalodon’s peeling tusk, the crowd avenued away, caught in camera derrière. Bigger than geewhiz he was, louder than learning, his mien splitting continents (into toy blocs, but that’s another sorry). His mother skittish and his father muddied, he sought the summit of special from every gorm he lacked, rutting where the blind billet in bills, balls deep in the course of the old club. Syphilitic mayhaps, or sibyllitic. Certainly cutting a figure through the clean cloth of we. A night in shamming bummer. The other side’s the auld syne. Everywhere the wards break, the beast set free. It’s coming home.

Alvin Pang is a poet and editor based in Singapore. Published internationally in more than twenty languages, including Swedish, Slovene, Croatian and Macedonian, his latest books include: WHAT HAPPENED: Poems 1997-2017 (Math Paper Press: Singapore, 2017) and Uniterrupted time (Recent Work Press: Australia, 2019).
This issue was guest-edited by Rachel Blau DuPlessis.
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