Sharlene Teo (b. 1987) currently reads law in London. She is a
recent graduate from the University of Warwick where she was
editor of Tapfactory, the student arts publication. Her writing has
appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, the Broadcast
Anthology, Argot Magazine, Zocalo Press chapbooks and Flash Magazine.
Our old dog, afraid of
thunderstorms, would creep
upstairs - refuse to
budge. We liked to invent an
explanation. Near-drenched doom
in early dog hood, some vivid trauma
in night vision. We could never
imagine; what we dreamt up was
repetition. I wanted to tell you
about that other life. The one
I traced out on my classroom
table not many years ago,
lazily replicated; the lush life
that eddies in every evening
air. My sister was right - we think
the most in the small hours.
Tucked into our unknowable
rooms, we mope the most
in tired light.
It's pouring now, two-thirty
in the afternoon. Raining cats
and dogs, impatient
paws. I drum my hands
on the table, where two batteries
have bled onto an application
form. The pages cringe and
curl, lust for the dust-
bin. The flower pots
wince on the balcony, and
I cannot hear myself.
That year, a haze
billowed over the city-
a ball-gown unfurled.
Upside-down days; I'd wake
with my feet on the pillow, teeth
on the floor.
We'd go for walks, and
murder mosquitoes. You
held a voice recorder up to
your bloody palm, hoping
you could hear them curse.
Eight o' clock and the plane
is leaving. I watch it scoop
the skyline, rudely shock a shoal
I bought a Grieving Kit.
It looked nothing like
the picture on the box.
The tissue was off-white and quite
used, and I didn't know what to do
with the hammer.
I think it's unfair that
Small Parts Can Choke.
I think it's unfair that
Accessories Aren't Included.
You're gone- you look
like old passport.
Yesterday stamped all over
you, dated and absurdly real.
But still I want to bring you
to the counter, for some
kind robot to scan my face
through these pages.
It wouldn't really matter
where we'd go. Maybe somewhere
cold as a coat. We'd warm our hands
in washing gloves, eat ice-cream
by the belly of a mountain.
What It Wants
"The heart wants what
It wants," said the aging director
After he wed his stepdaughter, some
Light years younger, shy and
Plain. Plain and shy, how we
Could not help each
Other. Outside my house
Buses sputtered, always late.
A circus bloomed and wilted
In the timid field. Back in bed,
You overslept. I wanted to tell you
How I had walked in the wake of that
Big top, that tacky Viking ship, scouting
For traces. Just one dirty ribbon,
Shot-out bulb. No luck-my shoes drowsed
In the giving mud. What my heart
Wanted was to stretch its legs out, to
Unfold dumb alphabet into bright,
Transient grace - in the naming of
Things, to call this
Something, in the naming of
Things, to call it
You steamed blowfish for dinner. By dessert,
I clutched the base of my neck, and promised
I was dying. I wriggled on the couch;
I thought it helped the poison detonate.
Then I imagined we were in a car:
We were driving to Cyprus. In my dream
You glanced at a convex mirror. The world
We knew, meanly curved. Give me a cuddle,
I said. I'm gone; I'm a demi-god now-
They said it takes mere hours. Plain destiny
We even met. Some things bloom from beyond
The sea. And dry days drowsed: alive, alone.
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