Joshua Ip

Contributor Biography

Joshua Ip is a Singaporean poet, editor and literary organiser. He grew up in a missionary family. He has published six-ish poetry collections, edited eleven anthologies, and co-founded Sing Lit Station, an over-active literary charity. His latest book, translations to the tanglish (Math Paper Press, 2021) gathers contemporary and anachronistic translations of classical Tang/Song Dynasty poetry. His poetry collection, sonnets from the singlish, won him the Singapore Literature Prize for Poetry. In it is only one capitalized word: “Him.” Joshua can be found at:

joshuaip.com

Psalm 42

the deepest thirst this is: to seek

and not find. throat parched as the hart

pants. long drought in a needy land.

from peaks to arid plains. a desert

thought: depression is a desiccant. or not.

 

but deep calls—

oh the sound—

gone over me—

 

can't hear. i think it's past. i drink 

my tears. they're stale. oh why so downcast. 

the thunder of false piety. it does not pour.

oh this disquiet. I will deny the high hills

and valley low. so dry. echo, echo.  

 

but deep calls to deep—

oh the noise—

all your breakers—

swept over me—

 

my voice answers me. don't recognise

whose cracked wail is this? i forget.

why, i dredge my slaughter-bones. i slough

the sword of my scorched tongue

from cheek to cheek. why me—why so—where you—?

 

but deep calls unto deep 

at the sound of your waterspouts

all your waves and your billows 

are gone over me

 

and I will—

I will yet—

will yet praise—

yet praise Him.

Names

I am: a sinner. Glory short-faller.

Sheepish stray away-turn-all-er

Meet: my Maker. Non-forsaker.

Lambly-beheld sin-away-taker.

Scripture-breather, never-leaver,

Faithful and just sin-forgiver.

Right-hand-holder. Rock-of-older.

Government upon his shoulder,

Life-lay-downer. Promised crowner.

Wall-of-fire-all-around-er.

Path-straight-maker, great chain-breaker,

Branch-which-does-not-bear-fruit-taker,

Nation-shaker, own-name-saker,

In-my-weakness-perfect-maker!

 

My names are made new by my Master:

Non-self-leaning whole-heart truster,

Him-receiver, name-believer,

No-longer-live-but-him-in-me-liver,

Sin-repenter, deer-like panter,

Unanxious request-presenter.

No-can-boaster, in-Him-hoper,

Confidently-throne-approacher,

Basketless-lighter, good-fight-fighter

Pleasing living sacrificer,

Worldly-pattern-non-conformer,

Mentally-renewed transformer!

Gospel-unashamed believer,

All-things doer by He, strength-giver.

Fool Song

after Ecclesiastes

 

This too, a wild wind-chase. I fold my hands,

Hey, two hands full. I sit in the high seat,

Mount the high horse. What profit! Shall I spend

It as a shadow? Look here, wine and meat.

 

If a tree falls to the north or to the south

Where will it lie? Where it fell—on the ground.

I do not know the right way into town.

The words know the right way out of my mouth.

 

They laugh and chase the wind, and multiply,

I cannot add or take away from them.

The birds carry them off to testify

In some high court. I watch the wind. I am

 

Reminded I dug a pit that I will fall

Into tomorrow. This nice snake bit me

Yesterday after I broke a wall.

My own pet snake. There was no charmer’s fee.

 

Sad people rise up at the sound of birds,

Though it grows faint now. I’m afraid of heights.

The wind carries them off. The teacher writes

In vain the selfsame and so many words.

 

There’s trouble coming. I find no pleasure in it.

The strong men stoop and the window-lookers dim.

The wise men stop to ponder the infinite

Wisdoms. Suddenly, I remember—

 

Him.

Editor's Note:

Joshua's favourite verse is Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

David Wong Hsien Ming

Contributor Biography

David Wong Hsien Ming discovered poetry as a child at a Sunday lunch. His work explores the dualities, contradictions and absurdities of being, and has appeared on platforms like Singapore’s Golden Point Award, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and Mascara Literary Review. His first collection, For the End Comes Reaching, is a meditation on the sense of loss that accompanies each having. More can be found at davidwonghsienming.wordpress.com.

Eschatology, or the loss of a job

Look at the wind, called to tell 

of the last word, its breadth gathered 

into a tidal weightlessness upon the execution block

—a washed cheek upon its lover’s palm.

 

There is grief on the skin, which knows

there is no wind in heaven, 

that destination’s temporary hands

cannot carry the weight of the journey.

 

Call loss the price of grace, 

if that makes things easier

—what does the skin know, anyway?

Only the smearing of atom upon atom.

 

Only that being is the only broken thing 

that breaks again.

Friday

1. Now, so Close to the Birthday of Your Death

 

Now, so close to the birthday of your death,

the sun selects a ray of light with which to blind a bird 

long enough for it to be cleft by a Honda accord. 

 

Call it glitch, frayed cord, misdirected growth 

of a bonsai branch, severed not despite of 

but because of itself, and yes it was only a pigeon

 

but its wings shouted with a stark honesty 

your life.

2. As With the Onetime Childcrime

 

As with the onetime childcrime

you’d commit, repent of, summarily forget,

when I found a most important thing in the playground 

I let it fall with the sand through my fists and feet.

 

Many places since

I’ve found it again, lost it again.

Every time a frenzied ant

in the tousled hair of Earth.

3. When the World the Startled Octopus

 

When the world the startled octopus

spits ink over his florid declarations 

and rabble rousers build an ark

that becomes the flood itself,

manic he moults to skin too raw

while twice a rooster sings— 

its squawkchord feverish melding 

his old self into new.

4. All the World a memory

 

All the world a memory 

unbuckled

and released

 

all her life now 

annotations 

whispered in the street

 

the bastard sun 

after a violent cough

shines indifferent

 

over the remains of hope

and the remains of hate 

and the rock she’ll have to push

 

until the same sun 

that let her look love in the eyes

might now help her embalm it.

5. To Betray God

 

To betray God

you need only kiss him once

between his infinity

and his feet,

watch the enforcers 

grant the defender

one righteous lunge

—then trust God

for the rest.