LEE CHONG MING


Lee Chong Ming is a recent graduate from the National University of Singapore,
with a major in English Literature. He will be pursuing his Masters in English
Literature since he enjoys researching and analyzing literary texts and theories.
His poems have appeared in SG Poems 2015-2016 and won First Prize at the NUS
Creative Writing Competition 2017. When he is not reading or writing, he enjoys
playing the trumpet, watching films, and doing HIIT workouts.






Grandmother

Grandfather is at the hospital
today, my grandmother visits
donned in cardinal floral, her prim posture propping
facade and reputation; my mother whips up an unusual meal—
jaundiced fish-heads, bloody luncheon meat and
eggs with greens that look like
disease. We ate silently,
with only the sounds of metal spoons and forks prodding
and the clicking of my grandmother's chopsticks.
Polite conversations about
how long the bus journey will take, and
don't bother about sending me to the hospital
were dispensed over the dining table
my mother tells me that I need to go over
to my grandmother's house to sleep
she cannot sleep alone
I don't know why, but impressions of
her fearing her silent death,
or falling with no one to call for help
came to mind.

Sure, of course
packing my daypack of obligations
I settled in the car that is sending
my grandmother home, and she fills
the void of the vehicle with her
meaningless utterances
Oh you don't have to send me,
you won't have time to do your work if you came along
my father just nodded over and
over, like a puppet strung by some higher being

but we both knew
my father would still do it anyway.
As I lay in the room next to grandma's
she muttering to herself
the beige walls reflecting
her own voice, replaying it like
a dysfunctional mixtape, because loneliness got
the better of her, I knelt on unfamiliar floor
and prayed

for this woman who
bathed me and whose arms
I scurried to when I was a child
and in between my prayers I understood
how you can love someone
without knowing her anymore.






Distance

Conversations were built
across seas, like bridges
to a territory I was unfamiliar with

you were half-
americanised, returning to
a past you now call second home

how convenient, I thought
to meet someone you know
you are going to leave soon

in a place once freight with
so much you cannot leave behind.
We sat facing each other, devouring ice-cream

while words rolled out like water
faster than the frozen dessert
could maintain its certainty

before it crumbles
melted pools soon became our own
acquired oceans, and exchanges

kept coming like
waves, trying to breach the distance
we cannot hold on to.

When we had to part for our own affairs,
it was clear that you only had
three weeks left, so little to

invest so much,
our encounter a mere
ripple in each other's worlds

finished cups
have shored up the conversation
and the void

averted our eyes to the door
urging farewell
to someone you know you cannot

keep. But we don't say a thing
at last our silences become
digs in the ice-cream cups

trying to salvage
what's left of it.






Sex in The Time of Coronavirus

Unable to leave the house
to cruise in dark alleys,
feel someone's desire
pulsate in my hands
the forbidden fruit now truly forbidden
this new virus

makes us retch, heave, cold
coughing out ourselves
as if our visibility were not
discriminated enough
but this disease kills

I hooked up the camera with my laptop
an arranged date
of lust, coronavirus, a beautiful
torso appears on screen
chiseled, tanned, and safe

through the pixelated screen
I can feel my own hardness
rising, my hands instinctively
grabbed my pants and unveiled
my cock to this stranger

we slapped our meat to a high
grazed our nipples and imagined
they were kisses instead of our fingers
the sounds from the speakers
substituted the gnawing,
the love-bites, the teeth-marks

before long we finally came
the hard-earned brine from
pulling our foreskins too far back
and growling fuck me to the cameras
coagulates on our stomachs. We quickly
wiped them off before they spill—

no chance for a possible infection
not a single trace.






Moving

Unpacking boxes of
reconciliations—childhood
figurines, adolescent playthings, cheery
family photos

I lay them out on
foreign floor, inspecting for any dust
that might pilfer these hard-earned memories
This should go there, that should be there

tributes earning their places with sympathy
while others cast to the store-room—
this house is not a home
no matter how aestheticized

My room is much bigger now, spaces demand
affection like how you used to slip neatly-pressed shirts
into my wardrobe every morning, my milo heated
before you left for work and I just awoke

we never say I love you
before we depart for our own lives
I acquiesce; those were your ways of showing
love, never enough but I have learnt to yield

because I am your son who will never measure
for all that he isn't and wish he wasn't.

Now, some distance away from me,
you lie in the opposite room
the empty space between us
like a child yearning for attention—

neither of us moves
and I decide to claim them with these words.



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