Dawn Lim (b. 1987) studied English in New York University for a year,
before moving to Cornell in Ithaca. She has done a bit of journalism in
Singapore, graded papers at a cram center in New York, taught English
at a state school in Shandong, and will be learning to ink presses at a
fine arts press in Ithaca. She headed the Litwing, a student literary
circle in Singapore.
Other People's Books
On the night of cardboard boxes, I scoured the streets
for duct tape at 4 am.
I began sorting out the past 12 months of my life
into 9 cartons and 1 suitcase
The year oozed
over the bed and floor like an oil spill.
I dredged up ticket stubs, cigarette lighters, eyeliner.
Other peopleís books, Train Whistle Guitar,
The Sandman: Season of Mists, unread and unreturned,
various intentions written into their pages.
At 9 am, I walked down to the Strand.
At the $2 shelf, I took a look around,
quickly emptied my bag of its mines.
I returned back to my room,
and waited for the explosion.
The blast never came.
I continued packing. I was due to leave New York
that afternoon. Perhaps
I would be in time for the flight.
Meanwhile, the dust in my room began to rise,
and refused to be collected.
The Jester and The Queen
After we fucked,
he took out his tennis balls
and began to juggle.
His balls and tennis
balls, balls and tennis balls, spun
and shook like spinning tops
till I puked all over the carpet floor.
How dare you, he taunted
The next day, I left this poem
to sit like bread, quietly.
till it started to rise and breathe.
Months after I left
New York, I would rewrite, and write,
and write it again. Till in the poem,
I would be able to walk down
the staircase, undo the lock
out into the outer air. The poem
would end like this: with a door
clicking shut, and then the song
of a woman singing with a voice like dusk.
The Adventures of the John and Sleazy Nancy
When the conference ended,
we said goodbye to the office colleagues,
flagged down two different taxis
towards the same destination.
The coast was clear.
I knocked on the door.
Our password contained no letters or numerals;
simple, effective: the laughter of secret sharers.
I entered, with a sense of mission.
At the one-star motel in a hutong
that smelt like cats' piss,
Mr Woo, 56, distinguished contact, convenient
family friend, dropped off
a mysterious, important envelope
and left in a chauffeured BMW. The hotel staff
eyed us with suspicion, and handed us
the code with their calloused, trembling hands.
In truth, it was diarrhoea medicine.
We told them we would stay just one night,
but ended up staying for five.
Too long for errant one-night lovers,
too short to be involved with matters of consequence.
What business did we have in China? asked the proprietor.
We were spending the summer
pretending to be spies, we replied.
In truth, we also were in China
to fall in love. Soon the film would be be completed.
Then I would replay it again and again
to its end, and then again,
and again, till in my mind,
those days ceased to move,
becoming nothing more than a roll of film.
On the day of the sunset,
you climbed the roof of your house
to seek out the view of my house.
On early mornings in Ithaca, the deer calling,
call me to the window.
I meet the view from my house like a girl in love all over again.
In search of kites,
we walked the streets of Shanghai,
found none. I left a country filled
with the overwhelming presence
of unflown kites
Stepping into the creek behind this house
to wash my feet, to exclaim Oh, It's Cold
On the day of poetry,
we watched the women writing onto the concrete
with paintbrushes dipped in water.
Then waited till the words faded
into a deeper silence.
Outside my house, I am gathering
the fading summer, pulling its greens and browns
into my arms to bring indoors.
I am done. I have lingered too long in the garden.
I'm going inside.
The wrestlers who live next door
will be playing football with beercans again.
meeting a city of black, wet snow,
will abandon a balcony overgrown with cigarette butts
to learn to look out from other windows.
Donít worry. I'll be fine. I'm settling
into the poem I've always wanted
to write. That poem is surrounded a creek,
has trees tanned brown from the end of summer,
is inhabited by rabbits, groundhogs, and other secrets.
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