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.



The Librarian


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.