ditch,

the poetry that matters

Zhuang Yisa

Zhuang Yisa lives in Singapore. His poetry has been published or forthcoming in Yuan Yang (Hong Kong), The Salt River Review, Eight Octaves, Numinous, Houston Literary Review, Red River Review, The Smoking Poet, Lily Literary Review and SubtleTea, amongst others. He also reviews for The Substation Magazine, an online arts journal based in Singapore.

 

...it's only lovers

who are willing

to die

 

for someone else -

 

Phaedrus, The Symposium 

 

 

The Preparation

 

 

I compose myself. The heart 
is the first to go, flesh 
becoming air 

which I breathe out, 

leaving a space 

for what is left

 

of the emptiness inside –

 

*

Then the lungs 
give way to themselves, follow 
the now-invisible heart –

 

*

Next: the guts

and all their bitter juices. A track

cleared, an occlusion

removed, so the throat knows

what it longs to say

in the end, and speaks –


*


The mouth 

seizes its chance, sets

its instrument; music

follows, the sounds of strings 


*


passing unhurried through skin, turning skin into earth 


into which roots settle 
and are safe. Do you see

 

me? Have we met
somewhere, before this?
The roots

 

are sinking, are home –
 
*

a coffin 


lies in the parlor. The mourners

gather (a cluster of trees)

 
to watch, to mourn the body 

the body

 

*


hammered into being, whose being 
is pretext 

to the nails

 

it carries, the invisible filaments of iron 
lodged in the flesh 

*

that wills itself to flesh to clothe itself in bark –

*

when all flesh is gone, the flesh that remains 
is the flesh that offers itself

to the fire

 

that is the destiny of all dead things –

 

*

the body enters the fire

with me inside 

 

*

a light diminishes

behind

the passage, where the hurt

remains 

(in

the bark) invisible the

letter

 

cannot be written out –

 

*


if I am still

here, writing –

 

the leaves, the leaves

falling

 

over the burning earth –

 

*

if I am still

here, writing

 

writing this letter of hurt

 

to no one else, stoking

my own fire, my

destiny –

 

Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis,
Gere curam mei finis.

 

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