Ng Yi-Sheng (b.1980) is a recent graduate of Columbia University, where he
majored in Comparative Literature, Creative Writing and Coming Out. He
has participated in the Creative Arts Seminar in 994 and 1997, and has been
thereby attached through mentorship schemes to poets Lee Tzu Pheng and
Angeline Yap. He has also worked on playwriting under Theatreworks's
Greenhouse Project and The Necessary Stage's Playwright's Cove, and has
had work published in the anthologies "First Words", "onewinged", "No
Other City", "Love Gathers All" and "5 Under 25". His only boyfriend was
a Puerto Rican high-schooler who spoke fluent Japanese and dumped him
after two months for being too clingy. He hopes soon to publish.
What if you forgot to kill yourself
in the middle of the story?
The dragon king's ransomed your father
and your knife's at the knot of your throat.
A moment's hesitation could ruin the opera.
Suddenly you might be happy ever after,
with your four pagoda-bearing brothers,
and your mother,
who's always suspected you were different.
Your red bib gets shredded in the washing machine.
The headmaster objects to your hair.
And upstairs, the magic happens without you:
They build you a body from the root of the lotus,
all six of its arms bearing golden spears.
It wages its own battles,
of which you hear only gossip.
there's a voice downstairs.
They're calling you for dinner.
Examine your stubble:
Beyond the glass, the bathroom sink
is a burning altar.
Beyond, you tread the clouds
shod with wheels of wind and fire,
and you wait to kill your father,
not become him.
She made mooncakes for the family, pressing the bread into bean-paste. Patiently, she folded in the sweet half-setting of yolk, the orange eye not yet a planet, blind as shell, then saved them in the cupboard half the autumn, shutting tight her hips in bedside sheets. Yet still the ghostly woman laughed out loud as suns, the rabbit spun the cinnamon-tree; she broke the handle of the door in haste to reach the kitchen, found him quartered, three parts swallowed by her lord and lesser kin, nor a call to war curled secret in that empty wedge of night.
Mother came home from business trips in China,
leaving her love in the kitchen,
wet with refrigerator dew.
Dark yellow baskets of scaly lychee,
still stuck to their leaves,
the silk white flesh on the black stones.
Fuji apples, names marked into their skin.
And once most wonderful,
a cluster of peaches,
pale pink, as monkeys might eat
in a children's fable, flesh to last ten thousand years,
the green fuzz cheeks not yet turned yellow.
Would you believe I ate you then,
a light slice, too perfect for this sticky island,
your kiss a city of stars. Your soul a smuggler's gift,
your countenance locked in a suitcase,
packed too full of good memories.
There's a Tokyo inside-out:
streets of gravel, wooden paneling.
Instead of floodlamps, giant bonsai,
subway channels full of carp.
The scraped skies and Freon moons
all packed into restaurants,
grand pavilions of grease and octopus carts,
Yamaha motorbikes revved up the escalators.
The children stay in all night,
furious canaries, jamming their loins by cellphone.
The old women and men play tea-ceremony
all day in the painted sun,
and live too long,
while the salarymen shuttle between,
all hours, white streaks on tatami and marble,
the teetering balance,
as they charter vacations
to Americas inside them.
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