Chua, Richelle Aubrey Ang

Contributor Biography

During the day, Chua, Richelle Aubrey Ang is a student at St. Andrew’s Junior College. At night, she finds some time in between solving Kinematics questions and deciphering Chemistry’s best kept secrets to write poetry. She takes inspiration from and often writes about family, love, and the teenager spirit. In the future, she hopes to publish her own poetry collection.

adele in the strawberry dress

it
comes
as
a
breath
of
relief.
drunk 
on
breakfast
caffeine water, 
she whispers a hymn
she does not know the
words to, clutching plastic bag
bag with slender fingers. like Lazarus,
she had risen from the dead and was endowed
with an odd miracle. grief pried its way and sunk 
its teeth onto her conscience, threatening to spill into
gravel skin, sizzling on surface. “Why am I celebrating 
loss?”—even Jesus wept. she tilts her head up, lets gravity 
naturally close up her tear ducts. residue water to dilute the
immiscible oil, evaporation. perfect porcelain skin breaking
and threadbare bones, teeth unstained, ragged rocks against 
stubborn current, carrying nothing, emptiness. she’s grown
thick-faced approached by relatives from China, accepting
compliments so long as they came with bright red packets.
lunch is three bright red strawberries cut up into five
more. 18. maybe 21? adele would’ve looked
stunning in the strawberry dress. seven
stone less made her ten times 
more of an inspiration. 

Lisabelle Tan

Contributor Biography

Lisabelle Tan works in strategic planning and research in the library and information field in Singapore. Her poetry has been showcased at The Arts House (2016), published in NUS Margins (2018), Crossings by NUS Museum (2019) and The Kindling (2020). She writes because she must.

Teal Kingdom Come

After Robert Lowell’s Waking in the Blue

Haloed in Colgate white, Nurse Woon 
With straitjacket-as-staff in hand
Stakes the aisle for stray sheep.
Cerulean morning stains
The windows blue, blurring them anew.
A sign: a dove perched on the scraggly edge.
Absence: Why have you forsaken me? My heart pounds a little
Faster. Is this the dark night of the soul?
No, it is an institute for the “mentally ill”.

Where now, is my ability to laugh at myself,
When the man of sorrows wept.
I tilt my face to Maria, trapped in her thirties, perhaps
Once a Holy Catholic Missionary Evangelizing Across Borders,
(the good Christian girl heyday bygone)
Still hoarding the slender build of a girl in her adolescence,
As she dwells, a broken shard
Shrouded in the figure of a martyr 
In her make-believe mermaid tub
Somewhat stained with womanly woes.
A queenly profile crowned with dandruff, 
Flaking day in, day out,
Maybe she thinks only of salvation,
Of beautifying stained soul with blanched host—
More alienated from communication than Babel was.

These are the ways we number our days, here as light spills
Crookedly into the cracks of our lives— 
Blessed are the broken, for they shall be comforted.
I miss not a beat on my reciting of beatitudes,
My chanting of the decades. In my mind’s eye I see
A vision of Mary, all decked out in azure but then she turns
Into One of Us, swooning to and fro like Auntie over there—look
At her go. (Careful now, don’t want her pouncing on you.)

These glorified figures of divinity, fossilized now.

Between the confines of day,
Sand and stone in minutes and hours pass away.
A carousel of visitors spins slowly,
Spits out twitchy twitterings, 
Stares at us (a circus act, a freakshow pack:
Are there no Woodbridge
Taming of the Screws in Sanitized Singapore?)

After a measly supper (unfortunately, not our last)
I weigh 45 kilograms reduced to a mustard seed
That never sprouts.
Saint adorned with pearly-whites,
I amble about in my fancy-schmancy teal pajamas
Before the plastic elastic mirrors,
And watch as my warbly future looms larger
In the scrunched-up blank faces
Of us purebred nut cases.
We are all veterans, here,
Each of us wields a plastic comb in one hand,
And a squishy pad in another.
(And I, with cross on bosom, chanting
amen.)