ANGELINE YAP


Angeline Yap is the author of one collection of poetry, "Collected Poems", where the first three
poems here were first published. Her poems have been included in many anthologies. Recent
publication credits include QLRS, The Poetry Billboard, Atlanta Review and Fulcrum. She was
a featured poet at Singapore's first poetry festival, Wordfeast. Her poems, including "Blue",
have been set to choral music and performed by such groups as the Singapore Youth Choir.






Merbak

When was it I first heard the merbaks cry?;
Calling, always, mate to mate.
I loved them from the very first;
It was because they mate for life
(So father said).

I have loved watching you;
Loved the soft grey warmness of your breast;
How, hanging upside down upon a branch,
You'd pluck the red fruit of the Madras Thorn;
And how, erect, you'd sit upon a fence and call,
Waiting to be rejoined.

Always, you'd call,
Always a pair of you;
I never saw you solitary
But one had fallen careless to the cat.
Then for a while you'd call, in hope,
Before there came upon that jet black head
So resolute a set,
As if to say, "No, not another."

I understand your cry.
It ever has been mine;
"Never, never, never."

1981








Singapore

Ascetics
'Midst the many sects of art, we;
No aesthetics meek and mild.

If they
Should inherit the earth,
We'll
Take control of the economy.

And the Singapore-in-the-street might say
"Better that way, not?"
With a rise in tone
Upon the question mark.

1974








Blue

A blue willow
bent in the wind
to catch the gossip
from the blue air
and the white clouds
in the blue sky
looked down
upon the blue river
meandering
across a blue plain
toward the blue bridge
over the blue waterfall
splashing white spray
on the blue boy
by the blue hut
where the blue willow
bent in the wind
on a blue plate.

1974








Only Hiroshima
(Occasioned by a Japanese tourist)

you stare

smile vacantly
from your bus
- a vacation smile
Grandfather spent the War
in a prison camp -
survived
on green bean rations
exchanged at 2:1 for his
rice.
returning to a looted home,
Grandmother's hair
turned white.
I return your smile

at fifty now,
what would you have known?

it was not you
it was not i
at SGH
a simple cross
speaks of the slaughter
of civilians;
the wounded
nurses
doctors
aides
but Changi, Nanking,
comfort girls,
and death railways
are not recounted
in your texts.

i think about
our Cenotaph,
of Coventry Cathedral's
cross of nails,
about your children
only being shown
the work
of the mushroom cloud.

"Nagasaki"
"Hiroshima"
sonorous names
invoking lovely images
- paper cranes proclaiming peace
- Kyoto overlaid with snow
- cherry blossoms, green tea and bento.
brothers, fathers, uncles
disappeared.
but that was neither you nor i
Somalia
Rumania
Rwanda
Serbia
Pol Pot
Amin
Apartheid
the litany goes on.
and it is you
and it is i!
"Never Again!"
is Auschwitz's strident cry
but the thrusts
of brutes
and bayonets goes on
if you will only tell
of Nagasaki
and your children
need only

remember Hiroshima


First published in Memories and Desires: A Poetic History of Singapore in 1998.



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