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Sng Bee Bee

Contributor Biography

Dr Sng Bee Bee is currently an associate lecturer in Research Methodology and Academic Writing Skills in tertiary institutions and industries in Singapore. She graduated with a Doctorate in Education specializing in Education Management from the Leicester University, UK and a Masters of Arts specializing in English Studies from National University of Singapore. Her research interests are educational change, English Language Teaching and Social Media.

A Conversation: Acquainted with Pain

Me: Pain, why do you enter into my life? Have I invited you in?

Pain: I’m a part of life, and I become a part of you.


Me: But you have brought disruptions into my plans; my order; my normal life.


Pain: I lift you up above the illusions of life. Life is richer than order; plans; routines. I lift you beyond the mundane.


Me: Are you saying that you bring lessons of life to me?


Pain: Yes, and not as you think. I lead you into the depths of your inner being, there the treasures of life be.


Me: And what may I find there?


Pain: Strength beyond what you conceive, a deeper understanding of what life holds. You see, you cannot taste life until you taste pain. 


Me: And if I should find darkness within me? Will I be able to accept it?


Pain: Yes, darkness dwells within, but pain tames the soul, brings the compassion that dispels darkness.


Me: Are you saying you want to be acquainted with me? That you can be both teacher and friend to me?


Pain: Yes, if you’ll let me tame your soul, make it tender and free. Free to feel and free to love.


Me: How long will you tally? How long will you stay with me?


Pain: I will only stay a while. After the pain, the dawn breaks and the beautiful burst of sun rays will bring the joy of life to your face.


Me: In that case, Pain, stay. I embrace you and the hope that you bring. No longer will I despise pain, for it helps me to know me.

Lydia Kwa

Contributor Biography

Lydia Kwa has published two books of poetry, four novels and two chapbooks. Her fourth novel Oracle Bone was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2017 as the first novel in the chuanqi 傳奇 trilogy series. A new version of The Walking Boy was released in Spring 2019 (Arsenal Pulp Press). She is currently working on the third novel in this trilogy. 

Excerpt from Notes on Grieving 

—Lao Gong 勞宮 Palace of Toil

how hard my loyal sentinel has been working
to shield that tender place

the Heart which palpitates

stuttering agitated scarred
by the slightest signs
of betrayal

the needle enters 
Pericardium 8 on my left palm

the earth of knowing
explodes in a rush of pain and tears

she keeps me company while I weep
I’m sorry to cause you pain, she says

she would have removed that needle
had I found it intolerable 
but I ask for the second
in my right palm

these weapons of liberation
shock the palace guard
with relief from duty

now I can be exhausted
enter a sleep of countless lifetimes
pinned down at the palms

Excerpts from Flight from Memory 

you hadn't wondered until the crisis
how cells harmonize
or deconstruct
or self-destruct



tension between flight
& constraint

held in her arms
held back



could feel & couldn't
knew yet couldn't quite

words shuttered into silence




yet scars testify
to malignant code
to survival
to dying while still alive




fragments torn from the fabric




as if she were still dying
continuously in your body

her tight, pained voice
clenches you

sacral miasma of
despair & hopelessness
rises to the throat



too sensitive too intense
too angry too fussy

too much 




I refuse to be loyal
to loyalty itself

I've decided to
remain unsettled

stop pretending




peeling away the illusory
in search of 

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