SEE WERN HAO
See Wern Hao is pursuing a degree in law and liberal arts at the National University
of Singapore and Yale-NUS College. His works have been featured in Toasted Cheese
Literary Journal and We Are A Website. He has also contributed to anthologies such as
Words: Lost and Found and Rollercoasters & Bedsheets.
Postcard from Taipei
A man heaves the pushcart on his shoulders,
dragging it by its arms
the way a father would a child. Crying
through the streets, carving a trail
of gutter oil. Because the night
market is now a market
of bodies. Pigs chopped,
propped up on sticks,
blood coagulating into salt.
Intestines hung, a string
of fairy lights. Salt scattered
over chicken thigh, smashed
into flour, cumin and chili powder.
Standing in front of the counter,
so faithful to the god of wealth,
you are also commodity.
Want to try? It is super fresh —
But the answer never comes. The answer
is you in a v-neck shirt walking away. So dazzled
by this city of lights, you do not see him bruising.
Your face is not his but one he will wear
to speak your tongue.
The way a pig peels off broiled skin,
zhu zha tang to tenderloin,
pining for a love more tender by the gods.
At Main station,
a man clutches a loudhailer
on a podium.
Chase the ghouls out
of this country!
Cheers erupt across the street
as you snap pictures
of flags, the old men, wrinkled
bandanas around foreheads.
Freedom is only the ability
to draw lines — boundary, belief,
bayonet. Blood dripping from fingers
into a cup of wine marked the end
of the Han dynasty. Not here,
everyone else spills onto the bicycle lanes,
trickling home. Hanging
soured white shirts
and sauce-stained pencil skirts,
they flag surrender on bamboo poles.
Loneliness is to give the body to the self who will not keep it.
Ahgong is an atheist. Watermelons cut, cubed.
The closest thing to supper he could afford.
For a dollar fifty cents, such a big bowl.
Cheap faith, the little bit saved,
my face resting on the rind, scraping.
A half-circle, teeth sunk into a smile.
Outside where got? Church was Teck Ghee food centre
every Sunday. Fish splashed, slippers dragging across floor,
parting of a sea of singlets, salt-caked
is love, quiet
chopping board, knife. Today I buy
the watermelon sweet and juicy
or not? Is it fresh? Flesh of the land, sweat of the farmer.
Soil and skin
I do not know. Here is delivery, not deliverance.
When I brought him to college, vigil lights strung
around the dining hall. Offerings spread
in trays, slick steel.
So much can finish meh?
Ahgong put down his fork.
I took a plate of watermelons
for ahgong, ahma, myself.
Yeah of course can. At home you also give
one big bowl that's how I learn to eat.
The caterers clasp their hands.
Do you want more?
No need, enough already.
At home not so much,
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