Eddie Tay is from Singapore. His poetry collection, Remnants, was
published by Ethos Books in 2001. He is currently embarked on his
doctoral studies at The University of Hong Kong. His latest book is
A Lover's Soliloquy (2005), published by Sixth Finger Press.

This City and Its Pavements

"Though I speak with the tongues of men
and of angels ..." - 1 Corinthians 13:1

This city and its pavements,
the litters of leaves
where I walked with you
are slipping away...

The playground
where the little ones used to sing
turns ominous in the dark
even as I pace myself in search of you,
among these drafts of buildings in the night,
against the orange glare upon the streets.

At times, I forget it is the same city,
so I must add a clause to this page,
to say, this is a city
where lovers congregate in parks and churches,
where women walk without fear of strangers,
where I can say amen without a bitter taste
and know someone will hear.

As a child I carried your words
and hymns in my head,
for these promises you made
were like grapes in my mouth.

The tiny explosions of sweetness
would linger on my tongue,
for I was thirsty like a lover.

When I was your child I spoke like a child
because you were my lover, my Christ.
I had no doubt then,
even as the heresy
grew ripe against your word.

But now I must revise,
for this city must go on,
on the whiteness of every page.

Naked, You Can Be Tasty as Honeydew

Naked, you can be tasty as honeydew
or sour, like green lemons stolen
from a garden. I was a cold creature
by your bed, watching as you sleep.

I was by your bed, curled up like a worm,
watching as you sleep. Your smile
gave me an apple sweet
from the first day.

I like you best when you are still,
as though you are dead.

Naked, you can be tasty as honeydew
or poisonous, like a fruit plucked too early.
I know it is hard
for you to forgive me, and forget.

I know it is hard. The church is hard
as the pavement, hard like a diamond
that cuts. I am tired of nails
and the shadow of Christ.

I like you best when you are still,
as though you are dead.

Even Without a Body

Even without a body,
I feel real as the moon
that steals time from the night,
from you, my evening star.

Imagine me, perched high
above faceless buildings,
making love to you with words,
hoping that you bear
the fruit of my pencil's lust.

Once more my tongue is parched
like wings of a mosquito,
and once more it is thirsty
for the dark wine spilled
upon the paper of your skin.

So come, I will create for you
a city furious in the night.

Only, do not look for me.
I will not meet you
at roofs of townhouses.

You will not find me in faces
of strangers you pick up
from the streets, in clubs, in the gyms.

You will see me only in the eyes
of a lover who looks back at you.
There, we will ride the high winds.

Cold Wind

There is a cold wind
rising at 3 a.m.,
and here I am
on this furtive pavement of men,
haunting the night for you.

For months, the wine
spilled upon your thigh
was sweet against my tongue,
and I am now shaking
and shaking to learn
more of you.

I think I saw your feet
yesterday morning by the curb;
I know the curve of your heels,
but the sun was rising,
and I was a cold creature
shuffling by the road,
hiding among litters of leaves.

I was afraid
you would forget me,
like the words you forget
when you read,
or the clock you forget
when you glance at it
to check the time.

Your face contains for me
an entire dream,
full of secrets of the sea
I long to drink.

Among this assembly of crickets,
I think of the centuries
I've spent waiting for you
in the tropics, in bodies
of captains, sailors, pirates.

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