Literary Orphans

Three Poems
by David Wong Hsien Ming


At the end of autumn

the leaves on your dress fall one last time & my eyes

simmering jelly in their casings


listen to your nightmare of me drowning you while you struggled only half-

heartedly thinking why not & me nodding of course


& later that day I nod in that exact way reminding you of how you were

probably already grey & waterlogged in the universe of your dream


& how there must have been some poor sweet child-and-ex-wife-and-sister-and-

hooker currently sharing that fate


as we fall upon each other heaving making the last sounds of autumn till the

breeze fades & we compact like leaves & rest


O Typekey Divider


Nami Island

Everyone’s put a lid on this world.

My brown limbs mirror the soil
to kiss your feet, to join my summit to your root

& make my breath



Above the fog the squirrels & sparrows agree,

perched the way God must perch, void-eyed,

though I suppose they do not judge me

for the remains of fine principles

smeared across my hands.

. . . . . . . . . . *

I cannot tell if it is you or the island

that is kissing the possible into my eyes

& slipping my soul into my pocket

so anytime I might taste it—


Now it seems I am one of the sparrows

flitting between branches;

is this an ancient tree

or a bronze chandelier?

. . . . . . . . . . *

I know your name now, Metasequoia:

once thought extinct, you waited with us

to die. As seasons unfasten

& embrace, you will not have long to wait.


So when you are ushered away

from this curdling earth,

take me with you;

I would have myself reconstituted too.


*Nami Island, South Korea, houses hundreds of Metasequoia trees, a species once thought extinct.


O Typekey Divider


The particles of me

The particles of me bleed caution

into a crazy wakefulness

demanding you; your blood

stronger than all my bone

rooting sweet all that I’ve grown—

I’ve trussed up my fingers into treble-cleffs

trying to water a blushing stalk

with veins not wired any more.


& in the garden that comes of you

particles of me prance as confused dirt

into a stream of swollen joy—

for sentiment has always been

that no prophet calls

his greatest tales his own.


O Typekey Divider

David Wong Hsien Ming was born in Singapore, discovered poetry as a child at a Sunday lunch and pursued honors in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, reading poetry at Rutgers University New Brunswick along the way. His poems have appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, CeriphEye to the TelescopeUnshod Quills and earned an Honorable Mention in Singapore’s Golden Point Award 2011.

David Wong Hsien Ming

O Typekey Divider

–Art by Diana Cretu

Sport media | nike