Winifred Wong

 

Winifred Wong is a Singaporean writer of both poetry and prose. She attended a masterclass I gave at Sing Lit Station in September 2018. In the masterclass, I invited participants to create Canto’s (a chant poem, separated into distinct scenes, almost cinematic) around one part of their life experience they wished to explore, and to develop a central extended metaphor through which that narrative could best be told.

In this poem, Wong uses the metaphor of a game of Monopoly to explore her relationship with her mother, and the changing power dynamics within that relationship. She also separates the scenes by counting up, and then counting down – an effective device to explain that changing dynamic.

monopoly

1.

 

funny that i’m starting in jail.

but i wait my turn

there’s no zero on the die.

side by side

with top hat.

 

the phone rings –

her voice

asking if I have eaten

or done my homework

 

sometimes, i call

but children are allowed to be lonely.

 

 

i get a six

and cheer.

there’s not enough space

in a box

for two.

 

 

“top hat snails

while race car zooms ahead!”

she tips forward

watching my progress

my car horn does not reach her anymore.

 

i meet other pieces

coming out from the bank

we share the same numbers

for a while.

 

 

passing trees

stock still

my phone is silent.

 

she’s not in my rearview.

 

i pull over to let others pass.

exit car, hands on hips, stretch

it is strenuous to do nothing.

 

i text her to meet me in the next town.

 

 

a call.

she has landed on a bad spot

handing all her notes away

downgrades to purse

and doesn’t roll anymore.

 

 

she hears my horn behind her.

 

Harini

Harini is a young woman poet based in Singapore. We met when I facilitated a masterclass at the legendary Sing Lit Station, as part of my Australia/ South East Asia book tour of 2018. Harini is just beginning her journey into literature, but is already creating sweeping cinematic pieces like this one below.

This poem is guttural, sparse and essential, a brilliant evocation of the after-effects of sexual abuse; that feeling that something is trapped inside us, some new thing about to be born, some monster.

When Harini has gained a little more confidence, I hope to also publish her full name along with further examples of her work.

 

Flies

  1. The little girl is sitting in a living room.

There is a rumble within the sofa

Travelling

Up her buttocks

Across her chest

Into her eyes.

It’s the kind of shudder that births dead things.

Fault lines are spewing flies.

There is a cloud of them over her head.

 

  1. There is a little worm sat next to her.

She tucks the soles of her feet away from it

She knows it will tickle.

She’s too busy looking to the flies to know

The path it took into her chest.

 

  1. Tummies are not made for worms.

Wombs must not birth flies.

 

  1. Did you know flies are attracted to dead things?

 

  1. The girl will not know when they leave her.

The craters in her skin, volcanoes pouring pus from which they emerge

Unscathed

Tails hooking, pincers tearing,

climbing, sucking, eating.

Eating.

 

  1. The little girl is sitting in a living room.

There is a rumble in her womb

Travelling

Seeking release

It flips her insides upon her skin

For all to be freed.

All she is

Is a cloud of flies.