Poetry / October 2018 (Issue 41: Writing Singapore)


by Ashish Xiangyi Kumar

Over there a mall which pulses through
           the night. Less distant, taillights clustered

at an intersection. And in the cars, pressed
           flat with hope, various people, happy or sad,

kind or unkind, how am I to tell from
           this window? Some things you never know.

By the hawkers, the blue gum that scented
           all my primary school days, so that some part

of me—I joke—dreams itself in Australia.
           They've ripped up the Lalang where I think

Little Egrets used to stand, implausible
           as they were even back then; now cranes,

bulldozers, a grand ossuary of intent. Well,
           half my air comes from across the border,

what would I know? An ambulance, look—
           fast at this hour, its warble meaning only private

tragedy. I have been allotted just this much
           tenderness, burnt up a strait of odd hours,

yet here I am, learning and unlearning
           how to yearn after someone else's yearning.

Fairy lights on the HDB opposite. Tonight
           the streets contain a great depth, and to go out

I'll have to halve my heartbeat like a whale—
           but no matter. The planet rolls off into the

vacuum, I'm propped up by my shape like
           a zodiac of aches. All I want to be is what

these streetlights are: dependable. Under them
           I could be mistaken, I think, for anyone.
ImageAshish Xiangyi Kumar obtained his BA in law and LLM from the University of Cambridge. He currently lives and works in Singapore, where poetry is one of his many errant interests. He has written for a long time, but only just started sending work for publication. He has been published in The Kindling, Cordite Poetry Review, Oxford Poetry, and Quarterly West. He won the 2018 Writers at Work Poetry Contest and took second place in the 2017 December Fortnight Poetry Prize. In his free time, he enjoys good food, arguments with friends, BoJack Horseman, music, and basketball. He considers himself very lucky to be living in a country as wonderful and strange as Singapore.
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