Robert Yeo has written poems, plays, and librettos for operas staged
in Singapore and abroad. He received the SEA Write Award in 2011.
His major publications are the collection of political plays The Singapore
(2001) and the collected poems The Best of Robert Yeo (2012).
His latest book is The Eye of History (2016), a play about the imagined
meeting of Stamford Raffles and Lee Kuan Yew.


I like to see the day pick
Up the day and pack it up.
Sign, staple, clip and send,
Close the drawer, not the dream.

The ink of work splurges
And dries the pen.
Its seepage into dreams
Flushes through sewers.

Lick your stamp but not your boss.

Trees in the Seventies

Here, trees calligraph our confidence.
As we shoot beyond survival,
Breaknecking the seventies, so trees,
Flashing green above the grey of tarmac.

Angsannas, like affluence, everywhere
Provide more than shade.
Much more than a colour
Green is an attitude.


Years ago, you were much the mopper,
Or thought of as. The world was pink.
Now daubed in red, scarlet at times
You could be savage. The rhyme is full.
One could have said, I nearly died.
And meant it and be stared at.
One nearly did. Would there have been
Anything to stare at if he had?

Iowa City

America fattened me to absurdity.
After two months in the flatlands of Iowa
After the conspiracy of milk, butter, corn and beer,
I no longer ceased to walk but swayed
Pendulously, holding my barrel up.

The sunshine of fall beckoned to its green
Across the road of the Mayflower by the slow
Muddying of the brown river. Bloated,
I lay soaking in mid-America on a towel
And think about an eagle called Engle.*

(* Paul Engle was co-director of the International Writing Program in 1978 in Iowa city.)

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