Poetry Meme Day #3

Today I'm thinking about the people crossing the Mediterranean and the Bay of Bengal in battered, nothing boats. It reminds me of the fact that three of my grandparents spent weeks at sea before finally arriving on the shores of Singapore.

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Poetry Meme Day #2

I sometimes work by drawing inspiration from museum exhibits, paintings and sculptures and photos, so it seemed a great idea when Ioanna Mavrou and Thodoris Tzalavras suggested I write poems for Thodoris’ new book. "How It Goes" was written in response to his photo here.

from Spirits of the River

from Spirits of the River



catch the light 

tipping through the leaves

and you’ll see a quivering.

the trees leaning in,

the air quickened and holding its breath,


a sweep of white

winging over brackish pools. 

Catch the light, walk into it.

The way a swimmer makes for water, 

the way water takes light.

Poetry Meme Day #1

I was tagged in a 5-poems-over-5-days meme on Facebook, so I thought I would reproduce the posts here, complete with the intended line indents and breaks.

On Day #1, I pick “Huang He” from my [forthcoming] collection, AND OTHER RIVERS. Because it's one of the first poems (definitely first five, appropriate in this 5 day challenge) I wrote. I like it for how raw it sounds in my ear.



We learned about the river today.                

    Huang He, how it carves a long, fluid line 

through the earth. 

    While I waited, 

I practised telling you 


how the river flowed past its banks 

    sometimes. Too many times. 

How they lined it with stone 

    after too many got lost. Led away 

by the river’s cold hands. 


I would tell you how the water 

    whipped through man-made forts. 

How villagers fed it incense, live cattle,

    their daughters. 

One each year.


Sent out in a raft of silk. 


Red-veiled. Dowry slippers 

    at their feet. I wanted to ask,

Would you? 


So while you bathed, 

    I waited

for you to step out 

    smelling of something sweet, 

a flower I didn’t know the name of. 


I sat, listening to the tap run. 

    The steady tick of 


    drumming the floor.




Translated directly from the Arabic, “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them. 

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