Gaston Ng is serving his National Service in Singapore. He was under
the Mentor Access Programme organised by the National Arts Council
in Singapore. His poems have appeared online in the Quarterly Literary
Review Singapore
, The 2nd Rule, Gangway, The Mag and Shampoo. They
have also been read on air at the local radio station, Lush 99.5 FM.

Black & White

We could love each other. We could not.
Throw away the photos, the memorabilia.
Hearts will keep what needs to be remembered.

At least I talk to myself.
The phone is lonelier than I am.
Is your phone lonely too?

Skip past serious questions.
Kids jump across puddles.
Hesitate. Miss.

My fingernail entertains an itch on my shin.
The itch on my shin entertains my fingernail.
Cats lick each other. Weathered couples smile.


First I offer you a drink worth $12.
You return me a complimentary smile
That's $0.10 to you, $5 to me.

Dissatisfied with my Return On Investment,
I plunge more time into this, dance
2 whole hours with you.

Knowing time alone
Won't be sufficient to secure revenue,
I drown you with vodka
That's $168 to me, but more so -
The attention you value at ten-fold, in the currency
Of longing.


I look at you, you look back.

The rules change all the time, but we
Abide by them best that we can.
You pretend to be drunk.
I pretend to be tipsy
And just enough to send you home.

Observing customs,
We end up in a hotel. We do what
We thought we wanted to do, then
We wait.

I open my mouth and ask you to leave.
You lay on the bed hoping
I'll send you back.
Or ask you to stay.

Junk bonds.

Gingerly, I leave you alone, pretending the night-scene
Is still interesting;
A cigarette like a secretary, filtering
Any dialogue between us.
The sun will appear, and with it, the $20
I'll offer you for the cab,

The rent already due.


My birthday.
I had just witnessed you cry,
When I revealed I might fly
To America for college.

It was silent.
And because I was focused
On the pain of your silent,
Chin-downed tears,

It was grey, black and white,
Stuff of dreams
And old movies.

You gave me an important cake.
My first, non-family cake.

Those cocktail paper umbrellas
You bought out of desperation;
Cold Storage didn't decorate cakes.

I remember opening and closing them
Repeatedly, testing the durability
Of your love

And later spinning them around,
Heavy dandelions disguised by night-light.

I know you'd have planned something
Better, if I had told you we'd meet
An hour before.
But perfection is regard,
Not fact.

We settled into the red plastic slides
Of the playground.
Fingers locked like VGA cables,
We stared into the confessional night,
That finally revealed her cards:
A Full House of Diamonds.

VGA cables,
Because we were both thinking -
At the same time, no doubt -
Whether we'd love longer than they'd live,
Those stars.

In that instant,
The weight of air changed.
Not lighter or heavier

But weighing exactly between
A moment and eternity.

I remember telling you how
If someone could lose hope
They never had it in the first place.

I still believe it.

The End Of A Story

Finally there is no more urge
To relapse into your mode of my living.
Rain doesn't seem like tears anymore
(Or any less).

There is no storyline
Left for us.
The only picture I have of you
Is a moment in plastic,

The Neoprint too kind,
Too distant to reveal our hairline cracks.
You nestled your smile snugly into mine,
As we obliged ourselves in an impulse.

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