Issue 12 · 2009

Five Poems

  by Cyril Wong




Who says I cannot compartmentalise heartbreak?
Break it open to employ its parts.
Fold my grief and leave it in my soul’s deep pocket with other
    unsent letters.
Letters to inspire memories and tragic poems.
My anger to be stored and recycled for future storms.
Hopelessness turned into warning signs around a bed of
Ah but what should I do with resignation?
How to use it and what is it good for?


Dear sadness, I would like you to make a pact with joy.
To walk the long trek up the mountain to his castle, knock on his      door.
To sleep with the enemy if necessary, awakening him to his
And tell him about the advantages of living with you at a lower      altitude.
In a small hut on the edge of a sea contorted by storms and
Windows regaled by the wrecked voices of wind and rain.
Taking his hand, bring him all the way down to your level.
To lay with you under your leaky roof, so contented to be safe
    in your arms.


One day, somebody called him to say his wife was having an
So he killed her in the middle of the night.
At least he did so in a dream; he awoke and she was still breathing
    beside him.
Divorcing her that year, he took to the road, and ran out of money.
In time he found his calling and became a priest.
He became famous for his witty sermons about forgiveness
    and letting go.
His best joke was about the man who strangles his wife.
We always laughed at the part when he eventually decides to be
    a priest.



The moment is a dog, death’s dog.
Not immune to abuse; sometimes you might kick the animal.
But such moments are loyal, for your breath is its food.
Its own breath dogs you, especially when time goes suddenly still.
When you feel its tongue and awake with that desire to touch
At your worst, you are glad for its tail, whipping carelessly
    against your leg.
Locked out, it circles your house, barking into the night.
Even if you are deaf, it paws at the door of sun-filled gestures,
    every dogged embrace.





For some it is never enough.
Because God needed to see how an over-sensitive fool could
A hole in your mind to be filled and refilled because it is
What would He think if you failed to close the void by sheer will?
I have all the time in the world to encounter a better quality soul,
    He might say.
One who will deny his loneliness to fit my joy.
None of these lesser children will be remembered by me or my
Who wait to sing my praises now within the airy halls of my
    grand design.






Cyril Wong is the author of tilting our plates to catch the light (firstfruits, 2007).  Winner of the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award for Literature in 2005 and the Singapore Literature Prize (organised by the National Book Development Council) in 2006, Cyril has been a featured poet at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (2003), the Hong Kong International Literary Festival (2004) and the Singapore Writers' Festival (2004).  His poems have been published in international journals and anthologies, including Berliner Anthologie (Alexander Verlag Berlin, 2004), Poetry International 9 (San Diego State University, 2005) and Asia Literary Review (2007). 

E · Poetry Journal