When not engaged in National Service, Jerrold (b. 1991) indulges in cheesecake,
circuitous jogs and the occasional plot to sneak his Dad's car out to supper. He
will be pursuing undergraduate Law at University College London in 2012; his
poems have appeared in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore.


Under the night's steel sieve, our prior
manoeuvres are caught in harsh beams

wiring through expressways, each exit
fathered by the same aimlessness as

a child realising, upon breaking free,
he prefers nowhere else. Eyes lingering

on faces too familiar to be recognisable —
flats conjoined like unfortunate twins, trees

without a choice, bitter tongue of roads
flickering past yet another dawn — begin

gleaning from age stencilled on a face
too recognisable to be familiar. Then

every word, every decision of yours
starts to pave new intersections, traffic like

tributaries straying from the source, only to delve
headfirst where the ocean lays expectant. Easier

now, the embrace of bygone routes as I
soundlessly watch you steer us home.


Just writings on the wall, dented
to deceive so sunrises may bloom

like haemorrhages across a forehead
as sky flattens into a prop no deeper

than water in our eyes. A canvas of
four corners duplicating space

for space, hair in equal measure, a substitute
where there is flesh, chains us to our images

while never convicting itself of reading
our thoughts in each furrow, in the tip

of a strand now diseased with white.
Dorian knew — as his portrait haughtily

hung by the neck, in defiance of murder
and suicide — that paint never dried on a slate

as soft as the glare of mirrors.
In the mornings we are muses

pining to be redrawn by our own ideals, so
as night dissolves like a wound and age

courses through a forestry of veins in
an onslaught only decades can inflict, we stare

back into our very eyes again, surprised
we have become hostages of ourselves.

Morning After

Few dreams past, experience is one part faith and two
parts mistake, boasting no apology to reassure our inner
accelerating voices. Fissured after sleep, I arrange
exhalations into tiny, inexorable facts like bark carved
for retracing, symbols to remember the chase when
conquering has proven inadequate. Somewhere else, only
strands of sunlight tattooed between curtains, the clarity
of a clean shave, a television muted, an insomniac radio
peeling away our names.


Beyond itineraries and tarmac indifference
I dodge the unswerving sky, one that always
proves the same everywhere: nonchalant blue
the vanguard for every relationship endured
or denied, an occasional string of swallows
sewing up its edges, pride of consistency,
unattainable flight. To know I accept
the fabled difference between leave
and leaving behind, but somehow failing
to fulfill its antithesis. To know the sky
rents a history of all our insecurities.
What I remember upon waking: ticket
pocketed like papered hope, fresh towels
and their reassuring astringency, a glass
of champagne, the plane taking off.

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