I Am My Names

by Jee Leong Koh


I hear the drum of my father’s life
most clearly when I sit at night
to type my poems of love and love.

His soft signal is growing soft.
I strain the harder to hear the drop
of ardor in the mountain air.

My name is Answer. I am a son.


A thousand rooms wait for a call
that says they are a special space
and not a room out of a thousand.

Condoms confirm the poem’s shape
the fierce cock disavows and breaks.
Between the condom and the cock,

my name is Double. I am a lover.


I could not move nor take my eyes
from Shiva’s magnificent butt
that boasts the beauty of a face.

When his consort opened her eyes,
she turned my naked impiety
into the first flame of the forest.

My name is Forever. I am a poet.


The world is never what it seems.
It is far more interesting
to guess the secret affinities:

the boy and girl sleep side by side,
the lion by the slab of lamb,
the garden’s promise by its rot.

My name is Mystery. I am a homosexual.


What burden does a birthplace lay
on the shoulders of maturity?
What claims belong to a small country?

Declaiming against its measurements,
I learn the burden of its song,
and raise the earth into a poem.

My name is Singapore. I am a fulcrum.


I’m North or South or East or West,
the bending rivers, the relentless roads,
or the broken skylight of a roost.

Old Famine brought me everywhere,
taught me to hear a fire’s maw,
and answer with the tune of food.

My name is Variable. I am a Chinese.


Each day revises the day before,
the riddle begun by baby talk,
the walk advanced by toddling aims.

The hands grow quicker than the eyes,
the head suspicious of the heart,
the body’s ardor into age.

My name is Anon. I am a father.

*Photo courtesy Paolo Aquino.