Born in 1966 in Singapore, Yong Shu Hoong holds a Computer Science degree
from the National University of Singapore and an MBA from Texas A&M
University at College Station. His debut, Isaac (1997, re-released as Isaac
in 2001), was adapted from a poetry collection shortlisted for the 1995
Singapore Literature Prize. His second book, dowhile, was published in 2002.


It was explained how the music
from the viola da gamba most closely
resembles the human voice. And so
I imagine the instrument a human organ
unbuckled - the better to sieve the wind,
then bellow with emotions a cloistered
heart can never retain. This soundtrack
escorting my nightly flight, cleaving
the clouds with winged ease, carries with it
so much burden into the antechamber
of prayers and divulgence, where it thins
to a sigh - light breath against an earlobe.


The infinite extent of windows
on the observatory deck
reminds me of illuminated fish tanks
that once held my gaze in Van Kleef Aquarium:
the therapy of bubbles. But here,
there's only the chatter of sightseers
drowning out the symphony of skyscrapers.

I navigate my nose closer towards the sky,
staring out with my fish-eyes
from my enclosure into another realm.

Then, with the decibel of voices dwindling,
I look down over streets, the big shoulders
of buildings, watching the city bustle in silence
as my mind fills up with strange thoughts
of the Flamingo sculpture suddenly taking flight,
the Art Institute's stone lions roaring to life -

How I have again missed out
on anarchy and outrage, trapped
behind the sheen of shatterproof glass.

The Migration of Bonsai
In 2002, after the Singapore Botanic Gardens turned
down the bequest of 51 pots of bonsai that Boh Chit Hee
had cultivated for 50 years, he decided to give the entire
collection to the Shanghai Botanic Gardens.

Fifty years were spent contorting
into variant shapes - but within
the corneas of judgement, horticulture
is never really art. A pot of nurtured
nature is still what it is - a stunted tree.
To stay or quit is hardly a choice. You
can break moulds but not expectations.
To be mobile means fleeing the habitual
garden despite terra cotta feet - eyeing
the storm, fearless of whichever future.

Picnic for Singles

We selected a spot
away from the others -
in between two trees

As if
we needed their steadfastness
to weigh down our poncho
against the uprising
of wind, or

As Grecian pillars
propping up the sky
to offset
any chance of rain
befalling us
as we mapped out

A No-Fly Zone
for errant frisbees or runaway
prams, even curious tots
and dogs -
our space

Only for champagne fizz
and poetry
and gossips
and tales of unrequited loves
while we sat

Anchored by two trees
with the valley before us -
each square of green
a possible lawn
for courtship and winnings.

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