Five Poems by


Cyril Wong








Do you know if you could survive on the beach

forever? Eat from a bin or cooling leftovers

at barbecue pits and tables of a hawker centre.

Pick up things you can use from a 200-metre belt

of bottles, wooden debris and household jetsam

regurgitated here by the southwest monsoon,

disgusting passing joggers picking up speed.

Hide from the police behind bushes that sever

the night’s chill waiting to strangle your inner light.

Once I saw a dead pufferfish beside a dented can.

Another time a hawksbill turtle laying eggs.

I dream that when the planet becomes uninhabitable,

Singapore will be an island of trash vomited here from

everywhere. A plastic bag yawns, laughs, closes its mouth.







Pushing a grain of sand right into me

and not realising what you were

doing and carrying on, carrying on

transforming pleasure into a pearl

of pain after penetrating me

with our swim trunks still

dangling around our knees

so precariously I hoped the rip

tides would not yank them gently off

the way rising currents kept pulling

the sandcastle of our bodies

down to itself, melting and absorbing

us back into the heaving

and ever-deepening waves.







Alas, the beauty of intelligent design.

Praise it to the child with brain cancer

or epidermolysis bullosa, whose skin

falls off, no, is painfully renewed again

and again like sand along this beach

the sea eats from and replenishes.

Praise it to the caterpillar whose body

is pumped full of eggs by wasps

then watch how the larvae drain

its juices before gnawing free from their

host. Alongside such thoughts, I admire

a woman lowering her head into the waves

before pulling out, hair sweeping back

like in a shampoo commercial or a baptism.







This bench might not know you

or it has known you all your life.

Repainted or replaced, how do you

begin to remember and yet it calls

you to sit and names you through

the hush of waves and coagulating sun,

the days you waited for love to show up.

Later a forgotten Amber Beacon tower

where you remember penetrating a man

or a man penetrating you and filling you

up along the staircase circling

its hard-on column, ecstasy

hailing you by your truest name

all the way up to the moon.







In order for anything to happen

something must first take place.

Then after the happening, something

else follows the action that came

before. And so on and so forth

until (or already) our actions

make an ocean racing or pulling

against and away and towards itself

in every conceivable (and inconceivable)

direction. Turbulent action,

consequence, reaction that is

the road less travelled or the road

you think is the same road worn down

to nothing. A sea is every road, every place.









Cyril Wong is a poet and fictionist in Singapore.  His last book was Infinity Diary, published by Seagull Books in 2020. 



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