Nothing taken seriously
and seriously taken. Tender
iris, the moon makes no enemies.
Walls link arms for each other.
Inside an asylum, one might
still be sane and listening.
You’re my second sight
through which I’m shimmering.
Time grinds hard but time
doesn’t keep score.
Wakefulness is a bed: let’s recline
before it’s over. I’m yours.
How many at Italy’s anti-gay rally
must also hate ISIS, thus missing
the boat of irony completely.
(Look: Muslims and Christians getting
along, at last, or just briefly.)
This reminder that after dispersing
the hatred, a love like ours sits calmly
at the bloodied centre. Avoiding
the insanely religious, the religiously
insane, those incapable of drawing
away the veils of time and certainty—
is also learning the art of being
alone, on our pathless road to clarity.
I confessed to Bette Midler tearily
in a dream that I loved the song,
“The Glory of Love” from Beaches:
how it took me off from having to be
anything more than a listener in love.
I think I cried because it wasn’t just
for me that I was sad, but for everyone
forgotten and alone. I woke up
without tears because I realized
we’re not fragments; we don’t need
to be somebody—lover, winner—
to be whole. I’m nobody with a name
and lighter than air. So easy
for me to say this, I know,
since I get to wake up in your arms.
A fictionist called the poet a choo-choo train that took you along for a ride in a
private circle of hell, if you weren’t careful. A younger poet engaged with him for
hours on WhatsApp, frustrating herself in failing to make him see that he wasn’t
the person he thought he was, the one most deserving of pity. He was a man of
privilege suffering from “margin envy” (she coined this). His problems had to be
greater than yours. He wasn’t the only one like this, unfortunately.
I entered the scene because I hoped to find an older poet as a mentor or
model of Enlightenment, but came across no such person. Everyone was
marginalised and misunderstood—a martyr in their romantic narratives of
selfhood. “These are artists and poets I never want to be when I grow up,” I told a
Writing has become my own teacher, clearing the weeds of both doubt and
understanding so I might stand alone in the garden of nothingness like the first
human on a brand new planet, gracefully stripped of every intention to conquer or
be heard (except by the silence inside my skull).
Cyril Wong is a poet and fictionist in Singapore. His last book of poems was The Lover’s Inventory (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2015).