Poetry / October 2018 (Issue 41: Writing Singapore)

Rag and Bone

by Jonathan B Chan

"Saya punya anak macam ini tin kosong."
—Somad, Tin Kosong

selamat datang ke singapura,
where the merdeka bridge and marina bay sands
gleam like the sheen of an aluminium can,
where the cantik careerists and sachok yups
are attuned to the rhythms of markets and strut
through paint-stained lanes and air-con streets
and sip emptied tins to condense the
heat. because in singapore, you'll find that

selamat datang can ring as hollow as the
warped face in a soaped car, the clatter
of a bag of empty cans, the amber embrace of a
sweat-drenched void deck, the promises of a lorry
that will never come. in singapore, their hearts
are big and wide but you'll never find an ayah-
shaped slot. there are only the words that play
and play until kosong.

ImageJonathan B Chan is a university student and occasional poet. Born to a Malaysian father and Korean mother in the United States, he was raised in Singapore and is currently based in the UK. He is interested in questions of identity, human expression, and the intersection of art and faith. He has recently been moved by the writing of John Donne, Ishion Hutchinson, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
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