The Artist is a Dog of Art

The Dog of Art
Denise Levertov (1923 – 1997)

That dog with daisies for eyes
who flashes forth
flame of his very self at every bark
is the Dog of Art.
Worked in wool, his blind eyes
look inward to caverns and jewels
which they see perfectly,
and his voice
measures forth the treasure
in music sharp and loud,
sharp and bright,
bright flaming barks,
and growling smoky soft, the Dog
of Art turns to the world
the quietness of his eyes.


© Denise Levertov 

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How to take care of your mother

In memory of Wong Chai Kee

The most difficult thing about my father’s wake was being told ‘you must take care of your mother’. Over and over some well-meaning attendee would shuffle over, say the words and walk away. Coming from acquaintances or strangers, the move seemed Singaporean in the worst sense, like they were trying to meet ‘funeral wake KPIs’ of (i) show up (ii) walk past embalmed corpse (iii) offer grieving son advice to convey sympathy. I’d go so far as to say it was rude; the intimacy of sharing grief must be earned, not intruded upon. Continue reading “How to take care of your mother”

9 to light

Nine months in a sepia-tone pool of cosmic spices

​of peace or absence or nascence.

Nine months, then everything exfoliates into light.
Nine months and the things that disappear remain,
nine months and hands are not for walking—

​you learn to put less pressure on the earth’s skin:

your tongue utters a thing of unknown

​and your being breaks from mine;

you make a pastiche of the world

​and I am no longer the world to you

—your laugh acknowledges this.

Every time you reach one horizon

​you fall into another.

It is not so much rebirth

​as it is a drowning.

(c) David Wong Hsien Ming 2014


i.m. Ken Jing

Grant him this: the lilting, blonding leaves
and a window with which to watch them.

Do not let St. Vitus visit. Let his gargles
be not on the floor but upright

and in front of a mirror. Let no child ask
why he flails like a fish on a chopping block.

Let no one question the existence of God
in his embryo becoming.

And when the storm of inflections comes,
let it come through the window

bringing the lilting, blonding leaves.

Continue reading “Intercession”

Here’s the dirt

Anyone who’s been filthy enough will tell you: to be clean after a shower is an amazing thing. The sensation doesn’t last, though. Even in the most temperate of climates dust latches onto our skin, and we begin again the slow journey towards becoming absolutely, intolerably, filthy. Considering this, it is no coincidence that we refer to our sins and moral wrongdoings as ‘dirt’. After all, the condition of being physically dirty parallels the condition of being morally or spiritually ‘dirty’.

To Nietzsche, this matter of uncleanness was illusory, a mental construct. He argued that if humanity collectively stopped looking to God and started coming to terms with the evils of the world, human society would be propelled towards a truly transcendent understanding of what is good and ‘life-affirming’.

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