Daryl Lim Wei Jie is a poet and critic based in Singapore, who studied history with a focus on intellectual history and political thought. He is particularly interested in the literary uses of history. His first collection of poetry, A Book of Changes, was published by Math Paper Press in 2016, under the Ten Year Series imprint. Daryl’s work has appeared in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Ceriph, POSKOD.SG, Drunken Boat and Softblow, and his poetry has been anthologised in A Luxury We Cannot Afford (Math Paper Press, 2015) and elsewhere. His work won him the Golden Point Award in English Poetry in 2015.
Too long have I lingered in the scriptorium and mistaken
the glowering spines for young British art. These days I use
an Oreo wrapper as a bookmark: its ultramarine like
the angels in the Wilton Diptych. What sets my announcements
apart from the Lord’s prank on Abraham? Demurring, I reject
the edicts that issue from the Hegelian hivemind. Instead, the silverfish purr
and unmake knowledge out of circulation. Now keep your volume down
lest you arouse the class consciousness. That day I saw a beautiful
octogenarian, all distinction erased between her
and the metropolis’s leading organ. Between you and me,
someone’s slipped something into my drink and it tastes
just like water. The story of my life has been a burr
on shimmering copper. In the new shelving system, poetry is beside
the dissident history of dry-cleaning. A youth corps
is always handy. This one makes sense, at last.
When I approach the threshold, sickness muddles my intestine
warfare. Out there lie worlds suffused with brilliant magenta, with men
whose arms are like wasp’s wings, and chess pieces are reserve currency.
The dire stillness of Sunday leaves me
gasping against the parquet. Road-widening
continues. Ma is getting her hair done
again. In Bukit Merah, a man fitfully
pisses into a storm drain. Soft fruit
is stepped on, a gravelly paste on
gravel. They say fried chicken
has never been so widely available.
Trump thinks we’re Indonesia, Vietnam, North Korea.
Parliament is closed today, but so are
KTV lounges. In Canto, we say we’ve waited
so long, even our necks are long. After I’m dead,
please burn the epic poem I wrote
about conservancy charges. When is
the next election, asked nobody.
At the market, the uncle is somewhat
ethnocentric. This new development combines
retail, petroleum refining and jazz. Buy low
and sell before the ICBM is fired.
I deny everything, even my denials. I wish
to make a living writing haikus on teabags.
The nation’s favourite sex position
is tax-deductible. Like everyone else,
I cried. I get up from the floor
and make myself a highball. Tonight
I will dream of a snake made of
green smoke, sliding vaguely through
the mile-a-minute, either going home
or elsewhere, it’s impossible to say.