Poetry / October 2018 (Issue 41: Writing Singapore)

Two Poems

by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé


Tabled is the dictum.
Tabled is no debate, nor the desire for one.

Tabled is the caesura, its delaying of things.

Tabled is the book of definitions,
its factory of illusions.

Tabled is fact, how impossibly exact.

The inexactitude opens a wound.

The wound itself needful of its reification.

The real reifies itself.

Again and again, through language.

Tabled is a response.
Tabled us is occasionally a collective response.

That is the illusion of anticipation.
And expectation, and hope.

Then read me the antiphon of antiphons.
Then read me the call to the wild ones.


Did you see Ryan Reynolds go pale in the face, and cough up pools of blood? Did you see his limp body, already dead, involuntarily jerk – it was like a tick, or a bit of fits – floating in mid-air in that space laboratory? It was a seizure, in a manner of speaking – that octopus thing from Mars was seizing his insides. God knows what it was engulfing – did you see how it enveloped the poor white mouse like a thick rubber glove? Gut, colon, liver, kidneys, even back up to lungs and heart, out the throat again. Did you see how exobiologist Hugh Derry’s glove turned inside out, wafting out of that lab box, the alien exploring its shape and material, how the glove looked like a fully formed hand? It was to say here’s pointing at you, kid. Here’s a long overdue payback for the way you’ve treated life, and everything that inhabits your shared space. It was poetic justice, until you actually started feeling an aversion to the alien aggression, the way quarantine officer Miranda North said it. She said she hated it, however irrational that response might have seemed. MOS Burger has a new tako burger. I asked the cashier what the white topping was – potato salad or mushroom sauce? – and what of the dark gravy above the patty? Is it teriyaki or their trademark demi-glaze, which I wouldn’t have gone for? I never got the answer because the query was shouted out to the kitchen, then the back room, and the manager couldn’t be found. Not that any response was required, not that it would have made much difference. It was just a question that popped, like a soap bubble barely making it out of the bubble stick, that then vanished – and it didn’t matter whether the question was ever conceived in the first place. Some questions are like that, take on that tenor. It’s a tenor that’s actually quite enviable – the tenor of does-it-really-fucking-matter. Some article said that people who don’t mind swearing in regular speech actually make for more honesty. The laying it bare, leaving it all out there, actually means there’s less of the hiding, less of the unseen motive. It’s a lovely miscegenation going on here, a kind of uncomfortable mesh-up of the vulgar and the good.

ImageDesmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé is the author of an epistolary novel, five hybrid works, and nine poetry collections. A former journalist, he has edited over twenty books and co-produced three audio books. Trained in publishing at Stanford University, Kon received his world religions masters from Harvard University and creative writing masters from the University of Notre Dame. He is the recipient of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award, Independent Publisher Book Award, National Indie Excellence Book Award, Poetry World Cup, Singapore Literature Prize, two Beverly Hills Book Awards, and three Living Now Book Awards. He helms Squircle Line Press as its founding editor.
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