Crispin Rodrigues is a poet, short story writer and essayist. He is the author of three collections of poems, Pantomime, The Nomad Principle and How Now Blown Crow, which were published by Math Paper Press. His poems, short stories and creative non-fiction have been featured in Kepulauan (2014), A Luxury We Must Afford
(2016) and Eunoia Review, among others. You can follow his book reviews on Instagram at @crispinreviewsstuff.
i shouldn't be embarrassed by this poem but i am
poetry tells you it comes from the heart,
meaning you can bitch about it all you like.
all the colour issues, all the skin issues,
all the unpurged mommy & daddy issues.
a student asked me the other day
if i was afraid my parents would see the poems
i wrote about them & i was told
that they were giving it away to relatives for their coffee tables.
what i don't say is that i still feel the fear
of saying bad things. the bible says thou shalt
honour thy mother and father & i still dream
that i'm heading to hell after these poems.
or at least some part of me will linger there.
then when the time comes & god decides
i won't go up a full person, & maybe i won't
see mom or dad or my sis or my dog.
the chinese believe in the word 孝顺,
a word so obscure in the english language
they had to make up the term filial piety
just so white people could remember the fourth commandment.
孝顺 [noun]: i am sorry for giving birth to pages instead of children. hopefully they might carry you when you're older, e.g. if i turn my poems into a papier-mâché bed, hopefully it'll have enough filial piety to support an old person's bones.
Why did you love her?
Because I could,
because I loved her in honesty,
not failing a lie detector test,
not throwing salt over my shoulder
on a Friday night with only fish.
Why did she love you?
You were steady
as a statue of someone great
like John Whats-his-name—
mellow in a morning of evaporated dew
under the lawnmower’s grip.
How did you know it was love?
It had to be at first sight
(these are prescription glasses)
for I remember conjunctions like in
carried weight like mud somewhat,
I am stuck now vs. I am stuck in the now.
When did you first meet?
The complex process of causation and subsequent…
hello? hello? it’s me again, from the time…
a quasi-séance of summoning followed
by a ritual of substantive properties—
why have you forsaken me?
Are you happy with each other?
The process of transubstantiation is
one of belief, meaning one has to believe
one is happy, not two on a Sunday morning
waking to the sound of thunder.
Have you multiplied in love for one another?
In true essence we have multiplied twofold
like the proofing of bread, which is just air—
it has always been that two occupied this garden
though sources say otherwise, otherwise in and
of itself we have been more than just air.
Go in the Grace of God.
See! A conjunction again! Truly, we’ve been blessed
in the hour of the night where grace might be in a sock
containing my father’s bones and mother’s ashes
where it is best kept hidden.
In your hands I commend our spirit. A –
Nicole Emma Low
Nicole Emma Low is a philosophy graduate from NTU. She likes the colour blue, having friends over for tea and finding vending machines in unlikely places. She dislikes chocolate, wilful ignorance and people who are not openminded. Having lived around the world and with ADHD, she aspires to one day put out her own collection of poems sharing her experiences and perspectives.
lacuna; or the shadow of death
occurring just as the last dregs of deep orange and
fleeting purple-pink drain from the sky
akin to watching water swirl into the
hole at the bottom of the
dragging swathes of
warm mellow and
so, the matinee
marking day sigh
then do the tides rise
big billowing walls
and hulking swells
of pitiless unwelcome
merciless windswept grey
my body becomes
every good thing swept away
spat back out onto a desert isle
the edge of the world
here a bright gentle moon
s t r e t c h e s to
dip her toes into
the bleak horizon sending with the ripples wishes whispered in hushed secret
over the dunes of time
heard by the silence of a yawning chasm she
shelves gelid woes to fashion a tower taller than the heavens
looming ceaseless and forlorn
on the sky
thrown off course far from home
the north star shines your promise
surely as sunlight fades
night too shall pass
and day will bring a reckoning
beckoning silver swallow-tailed clouds to sweep
away the mist of wretched gloom
the murk of unfathomable sorrow
back to its empty shell deep down in hell
discontent its home