Koh Beng Liang (born. 1976) is the author of Last Three Women (2002), a first
book of poems published by Ethos Books. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon
University in 1999, where he studied electrical and computer engineering. He is
a co-founder of the2ndrule, a guerilla creative email magazine. As DJ Beng, he
mixes the Instant Cafe Radio Show, which can be heard at the2ndrule.com. He
is part of the Digital Compassion team, which in 2002 produced a digital short
film festival at The Substation. In 2004, he co-created TGV, an audio-to-visual
and visual-to-audio interactive system.


A Zen apartment,
Sunday night. Wearing blue shirt,
ironing blue shirt.

Yet unknown to him,
his colleagues all will wear the
same hue tomorrow.

A quiet snicker.
"Those morons don't see how they're
irony deficient."

Incoming email
promising sexual prowess.
He hits Delete.


The littlest children, barely able to read,
know those three embossed words
on the butts of their shrink-wrapped
fast food toys.

The adults struggle to catch up.
One step behind, one language removed,
not realising how impossible it is
to translate culture.

The Pantone charts do not come with
the implied tones of blood, brotherhood,
repainted Tiananmen banners, or

At the immigrant's funeral
the grandchild's Shanghainese bride
laughed at the quaintness of the rituals,
her defiant lips curled in a red O.


Every day another god
is celebrated. Not today.
Mynahs feasting on worms
from the freshly cut grass
are not as black, or as superficially mournful,
as the ushers, with the shiny boots,
fainting from heat, not grief.

Against the rules they let the flags fly half-mast.

Black veils cover the faces
of dignitaries, female and foreign,
who despite being at the height of their powers
still fall victim to impractical shoes.

The front page photo, above the fold,
shows him in full resolution,
privately, in his office,
weeping for the father of the country.


The law of conservation of sibling happiness
is true everywhere.

She was grateful for the off-colour jokes
her brother-in-law told at those long, weekly dinners.

"How could you make him change, then be surprised
that he isn�t the same person that you married?"

She still girlishly overanalyses the formal gestures,
missing completely the small meaningful acts.

"You would've been perfect had we met
in our previous lives."

"I wouldn't call it a previous life," his green eyes said,
"but that's an interesting way to put it."

Back to Front.