Dylan Randall Wong
Dylan Randall Wong is an undergraduate Psychology major at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He calls Singapore his home. His poetry and short story fiction have been published in the SG Poems 15-16 and anima methodi poetry anthologies, and the this is how you walk on the moon short story anthology, respectively. He prizes diverse perspectives on trauma and healing: scientific, historical, poetic.
It Is Still 1945
It is 1945 and my grandfather hears an urgent knock at the door.
It is 1945 and blades of the Kempeitai gnaw through bodies
frail dirt bodies beaten thoroughly as to have no substance to resist.
It is 1945 and men actuated by fire see fate reified in their artificial sun.
It is 1945 and he cycles below swaying heads,
disembodied heads shunning the apex of the rising sun.
It is 1945 and already he's ingrained the words never again.
It is 1945 and his messenger boy uniform is ill-fitting and dirty.
It is 1945 and some triumphant men in moustaches put pen to paper
chuffed to be among the spectacle of Men Who’ve Done Their Part.
It is 1945 and my great-grandmother embraces the boy no more
now with welding goggles for eyes, dutifully perusing construction contracts
across the table from me with a magnifying glass,
boy no more who seems to believe
it is still 1945.
Because I want to help you,
you are words on a screen
and I am not here to save you.
I am complete confidant without shame,
stranger you anoint with fluid pain,
sworn to confessional silence
though no gods issue restraint.
Because I want to help you
when you say you want a way out
I am not permitted to lead you there.
You are complete connection brought to bear,
all unstructured outpouring and none of the hard work
the future we've planned together surely holds.
Because I want to help you
we need each other, you and I
of pseudonym, parsimony, planning.
No transaction more mutual
than at the very summit of crisis
where I hunt your words for hope
and raise my catch towards the opaque sky.
Ow Yeong Wai Kit
Ow Yeong Wai Kit is an educator and writer who has edited poetry anthologies such as From Walden to Woodlands (2015) and Love at the Gallery (2017). He holds a master’s degree in English Literature from University College London. His writings have been featured in QLRS, Interreligious Insight, and elsewhere. In 2019, he was a recipient of the Outstanding Youth in Education Award by the Ministry of Education.
A sudden crash—a man dies. Manic activity ensues.
Under the police headlamps remains the aftermath:
deformed plastic, burning rubber, broken windshields,
blazing metal effigies, the acrid smoke wafting past
the grisly geometry of blood and congealed wounds.
Clamorous sirens have smothered the howls of the mob;
the slow peace of decades blighted by their cacophony.
As estimated, damages have been incurred, property lost.
Justice is assured. Prosecution, incarceration, deportation.
Men lie—flat on their fronts, cuffed, subdued, a neat line.
A suspect looks up. Can we sense his unregenerate fury
in the bottles that he hurled, or hear the mangled words
that he conceals with his silent mouthings, when we
drove him into the chafed margins of this still-safe land?
When the School is Quiet, the World is an Open Sky
A yawning afternoon sun prods me to bid goodbye.
Slowly, I dismantle the years, to be wrapped and packed.
Every fatigued box is heavy with the weight of words,
leaden, laden with promises, heaved out of drawers.
When the school is quiet, the world is an open sky.
Laughter and chatter always scatter like birds.
Faint knocking. Is someone at the glass doors?
I peer out: the corridor is empty. Intrigued
by absence, I wander outside, flummoxed
at how quickly others can elude us. But then
I hear the piano gently playing, as if to serenade
the stillness of twilight. My interest now piqued
(the tune is from that film we watched—Your Name),
I descend the stairs, to the first floor, only to find
no one. Strange silence. It is always the same;
of course, we are only temporary. Ideals fade.
Though my gaze lingers, I know I must depart.
Whether into the moss-green hills on the wall,
or just to a new desk. Still, images echo behind.
Sacks of rice. Mooncakes. Lanterns of the heart.
I trudge back up. There is a card on my table.
I read the balm of your farewell, a loving scrawl.
Outside, the pale light wanes with the koel’s call.
But there will always be words. A heart’s cradle.