AMOS TOH


Amos Toh is a Singaporean writer who has completed a Masters in Law in New York.






David's Addiction

"But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." —2 Samuel 11:27


"He has a child, you know. How can he do this... watch this..."
David's wife had sobbed to their pastor that morning,
bent over with despair
the gold cross strung across her neck quivering
each time she gulped for air.
When the pastor stumbled across his desk
to offer a prayer,
the already uncertain pile of "this"
collapsed onto itself,
hips, tits and cunts
now strewn across the desk,
frozen mid-heave
as if caught in the act,
moan-shaped mouths swallowing
the pale yellow glow of the church.

It was God's way of letting David let her know,
the pastor prayed.
Of letting him let her help,
she believed.

That night, David emptied his Evil Thoughts into the sea
so that tomorrow he would be a remade man
another story of redemption.

Feeling the heat of his wife's tears
rush into his cheeks,
he spun each disc into the waves,
willing his lust to a faraway coast.

Lifting his arms to the sky,
he recited a dwindling prayer and waited
for God to flood him.






The Check-in Counter Lady Speaks

I have seen them all.
Twenty-nine year old children
excitedly asking for seats by the window

before handing over their passports.

Primary school kids
overwhelmed

not by departure—
but the parting hands and words
of anxious parents.

Two types of students:
one whose expectation is torn by sorrow
the other whose expectation sweetens his sorrow.

Smartly attired businessmen
the wrinkles of their suits
driven out by an iron

only to find new homes
on their foreheads.

Bangladeshi workers and Filipino maids
the scent of their hopeful language

lighting the air.
Man and man finding marriage

outside marriage,
filling the half-moons of each other's ears
with honeyed words.

Siamese twins:
the intrepid backpacker and his backpack.

The American tourist
who wonders why we smile so much

but laugh so little.
The Singaporean tourist

departing his foreign homeland
for home in a foreign land.






0530hrs

Alarm clocks, shuffling feet and creaking lockers.
The ceiling, at first a haze, then a white stare—
a few inches closer than yesterday.
I sit up
between sleep and waking
where not even my name
makes sense,
much less shaved heads around me—
each freshly plucked,
now straining above suits of regulation green
bobbing to polished rifles
and scrubbed boots
in uniform silence.






Sunday Christian

Mother was what Pastor John once denounced as
a 'Sunday Christian'
but even that would be
an inadequate description
since on some Sundays,
mother would call father
chow cheebai
('fucking cunt' in Hokkien;
English didn't quite have the same
effect) for sneaking
a cigarette in the void deck,
or rain her fists
on my "thick skull"
("why can't you get those words
for tomorrow's 听写 into your
fucking
thud
thick
thud,
skull?").

The next morning,
mother would clutch father's hands in prayer,
her fingers circling his
for forgiveness.
To father—whose favorite part of service
was the wine he was allowed during Communion
(to "wash away his sins", mother said)—
this meant make-up sex tonight.
My lunchbox
usually stuffed with store-bought cookies
now rattled with peanut butter and jelly cutouts
bearing the likeness of Jesus—
mother had woken up early
to bake her apology.
She would coo "Jesus love you"
as we prepared for work and school
"yes, Jesus loves, you, yes, Jesus loves you"

wafting across the house
like a haze of detergent
casting out
leftover fumes of Sunday's anger.



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