Poetry / March 2016 (Issue 31)

The Spell of the State (to be cast in a hexagram)

by Lian-Hee Wee

Triangle A: Dance for economic growth
1970s, Singapore.
A fish and a lion became brothers,
because Da Man[1] played Dr Frankenstein,
spliced them to make one a tourism icon.
The famed had a lion's mane but no claws,
The forgotten had no scales except near the gills,
and used a fishbowl for a aqua-helmet.[2]

Triangle B: Incantation for familial, quasi-familial, and non-familial relations
Meanwhile at the sea-command,
the c-commander reflected on herself[3]
thinking about how she related symmetrically to her sisters
and lorded asymmetrically over her nieces and grandnieces,
unless the nieces are singleton daughters of a line of singleton daughters
other than the c-commander's sisters, then
it would be as if they were the c-commander's sisters.
Likewise the c-commander.
Likewise her sisters.
But their parents have no power over them.[4]

Triangle C: Evocation for protection and perpetuation
It didn't matter if one can sought things out.
The mess is an armour
for protection of the ill-gotten
that all may be forgiven and forgotte...
... ... ... eh ... uh ... what was ... oh well, ...
So worms emerge from the echoing marble vault[5]
and infest themselves in human guise.

Triangle D: Chant for proliferation of power
Rhyme convinces faster than reason
Slogans are really from Planet Slog
They have colonised Hong Kong
directly from China directly
from Moscow directly
from France directly
from Germany and independently
welcomed to Temasek.
Holdings of the terroir scented by Indon's freshly made peat.

Triangle E: Potion for writing history
The sea commander searches with her hook appendage,
finding no rum which bottle shape fits for sailing and into a pirate's hand.
Da Man offers a potion from Glendfs, cask ref. 4D6M89Y20C,[6]
an odd, old malt choiced by a cooper
whose name is perhaps Badger,
Mole, Frog, Paddington, but is really Peter.[7]

Triangle F: Conjuration
And with a 70% vanishing grin, at Ang Mo Kio in September 2015,
or was it Radin Mas in May or blood-red hill in July 1977, or?
Seventy, seventy, seventy, seventy-seven
to rhyme, if not elysian, then with heaven
"Twinkle, twinkle little bat,
how I wonder what you're at?"[8]
*Author's note: While the academia is engrossed with citing one another's work, either for fear of being called a plagiarist, for mutual pandering or for sincere dissemination of knowledge, I wish for all reasons above to make a non-plagarist, sycophantine encouragement to inspiring creative works as well.

[1] Gwee, Li Sui. So Long Ah Kong ... And Thanks for All the Fish. The Other Merlion and Friends. Pp. 77-78. Singapore: Landmark Books, 2015.

[2] Gwee, Li Sui. The Other Merlion. In The Other Merlion and Friends. P. 44. Singapore: Landmark Books, 2015.

[3] Polley, Jason S. Constituent Command. Cha: An Asian Literary Journal Issue 25 Se 2014. Lines 40-41. Accessed 28 Nov 2015.

[4] In theoretical syntax, a c-commands b iff (i) the first branching node that dominates a also dominates b; (ii) a does not dominate b; and (iii) b does not dominate a.

[5] Andrew, would that be Marvell enough?

[6] Once a convent where WWII orphans found hope, now decadence run by corporations, real owner opaque as are probably all Asian corporations because we chose to be ignorant or to be trusting or didn't get around to choosing.

[7] Reference not necessary to those who know, and pointless for those who don't.

[8] Lewis Carroll.

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