Cheng Him's work has been featured in the Quarterly Literary Review
Singapore (QLRS), and the Eunoia Review. They are part of the writing
group known as The ATOM Collective.
bite into a leaf and it is silicon. a trickle of binary runs down a chin, gaping mutely in the dark.
what is a farm? the bok choy breathes fire from the servers to turn it to sugar in the dark
a kid with a silver hand tosses a geiger counter over his shoulder. he trades it for vintage cards -
why keep count if the tides keep rising? why care if everyone already glows in the dark?
it is said the present dreams of awakening to a neon future. but look, the signs have all been wrong,
when the future comes there will only be tallow candles, in the shadow of a wind farm, staggering in the dark
run: subroutine for anondyne / think: substitute for melodrama. digital xanax, digital patch
client / this time it's Siti, who stays up & stares at her curtains as they shimmer in the dark
the bomb blasts have become obsolete - ever since the jellyfish swallowed the algae farms
we have learnt to eat lightning, heartbeat binary drumming thunder in the hunger and the dark
speaking of which, i have heard / seen / felt / tasted your name. which is to say, i have felt it all at once.
it has a nice curve. it burns brighter than the city tearing through the water in the dark
what's in a name? mine consists of a tower in a desert. i like to pretend it is an oasis instead: where a leaf can be a leaf
and not a metaphor. there will be quiet here. i'd like to be so, past a quaking mirage, a concrete hope waiting in the dark.
it means sleight of hand. it means sideways glance and a mirror with no reflection.
a cloud reaches for a river to touch a shard of water. it melts into its own reflection.
behind a word is a desk. i have one with a folding top. it is bent with age. it overflows with paper.
pencil a soft substitute for memory. when graphite turns to ash look for its reflection.
moths turn to wicker on a lamp. i imagine jasmine draped about the neck of buddha-in-clay.
is there a name for this brown sweetness? the singing bowl humming in its own reflection?
i hoard rice in my pockets. i need only rain for porridge. starch lends strength to brittle.
my fingers become spoons. i set a bowl down before the moon. i kneel to eat its reflection.
a name arrives on my lips with the morning mist. in the space between a breeze and a gale is a cutting edge.
think: window frame. i imagine glass on the periphery. curtains fold a face to lend structure to reflection.
convex; in other words, make more out of light. bend back, and turn dust into sugar. raise bread.
in the heat of morning all else must cleave to light. they call this anacamptic. i call it reflection.
i will not lie: some nights i leave the radio on before i feather-slip asleep
i can vouch for hunger, mine eats my innards while i stow myself asleep
strung between ate and eaten i have lost half my collar bones
from time to time they slip into my clothes while i dark asleep
i too, caffeine drunk shed skin, fall into moulting fall from frenzy
the shuttered slats, cracked walls, scrape my dermis half asleep
there desiderata, if you press eyelash to lid & squeeze
palm slanting, all else turns to shore, & i wash up on my sheets asleep
i rise, salt-soak in the kerning of surname
seasoning side swept on my lips, & settles in, & falls asleep
i will not lie: some nights the radio scratches-screams my name
i will not lie: most nights i walk past the radio bright asleep
arc of fire
this mud / is bright red / i swing / my chanko bites a rock / & finds fire
my hands unfold / like lemongrass / sweet & sharp / like / verdant fire
where is / the iron picket / did we plant it in / the right place / have you
heard / the monkey rams / sing in the morning / proud orchestral fire
if i squint / hard enough / i can almost imagine my boys / biting apples
skin / breaking like / gravel beneath boots / bright as forest fire
straight ahead / enemy / behind tree / (sergeant - siao ah
simi lanjiao / behind tree / everywhere here also tree) / rapid / fire
children / fold a map / and pretend borders / exists where / all lines
meet / who will tell them / that these grids / are full / of ancient fire
two handed / i will cut the grass / there is only grass / (why does it bleed)
my mother is calling / i put the kettle on / to bake / upon the fire
have you felt / the bombs burst / i did / six months after / at 7-11
all the candy / jumped out of the shelves / to blossom / in spouts / of fire
yesterday / a flock of pigeons / burst / as they swam / through the air
all around / ang mo kio park / were swooping / bouts of plunging fire
earth / to 21 Sierra / where has / your range card gone / it is all / over
the walls / it is all over the floor / it is all over / over / it is all / on fire
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