the poetry that matters

Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé was born in Malaysia and raised in Singapore. He has edited more than 10 books and co-produced 3 audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. His work in lifestyle and developmental journalism took him to Australia, Cambodia, France, Hong Kong and Spain, and saw him writing numerous stories, including features on Madonna, Björk and Morgan Freeman. Trained in book publishing at Stanford, with a theology masters in world religions from Harvard and fine arts masters in creative writing from Notre Dame, Desmond is a recipient of the Singapore Internationale Grant, awarded to launch the anthology For the Love of God at the First Prague International Poetry Festival. His poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Blackbird, Confrontation, Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, Gulf Coast, New Orleans Review, Sonora Review, Seneca Review, and Versal. Also working in clay, Desmond sculpts commemorative ceramic pieces for his Potter Poetics Collection. These works are housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.

The Same Day Balearic Took Flight

(That morning, there were devotionals.)

“With our coordinates transformed, what of our stochastic processes?”
“They’ll have to go, I’m afraid.”
“But the air needs to conduct itself, to allow the hearing, something industrial.”
“That’s something the stochastic remains open to.”
“But gravity requires a matter, a physics of rumour that selects itself.”
“That’s something the stochastic remains open to….”
“And matter needs mother and father factors, an introduction, a register.”
“Something of the stochastic, open and common, and also afforded.”

“And my life and its sound waves on my tympanum?”
“Sound, too, travels within the stochastic.”

“It doesn’t have to be love always, does it? Where is the way back?”
“How do I find my way back, from these averages to the primeval?”
“Yes to finding a home, a novel set in the Seine?”

“How I wish for a forging of some of the formulaic my granny lived her life by.”
“And that too, the stochastic will go to, like sound to the oval tune.”



two twizzles
that helpful bus driver
and 1/2 lb fudge

There’s the flower!
There’s a flower in Labinskaya.
There’s a flower, an evolution.

Tell me about the time you found the jade ring!
It was nephrite and it was white, not malachite.
Like the elephant, my apologies….

There’s a line!
There’s a line in Labinsk.
A line like a half-formed light, loft-light, like limbo.

Tell me more about this line you see.
It’s not much, sorry, like limbo, soft like the day after rejection.
Like a utopia-dystopia and the aching protractions in between.

This doesn’t have to be like therapy, y’know….
No, it doesn’t but I like Pepsi Max. And corrugated cardboard, sorry.
Yes, but let’s try to keep our perspectives above water, shall we?

Do you want half of my twizzler?
Sorry I don’t have candy at half-time. No sweetmeats either. Or final course.
But I have an after-dinner mint, if you want….
[we pass by roadkill, three of them]


[we pass by barren trees, this bit of St. Joseph’s iced up]
There’s a blender. There’s a goldfish in it!
It’s been an aquarium for a while, after someone pulled the plug.
It’s after-dinner therapy… helps you do the math about life.

You never told me about Warsaw. Was it too slow too, even Warsaw?
It was too cold, a poem too that’s disowned its psalms, vagrant.
But never nomadic enough, singular, in accord or home enough.

Like humanity and how it disappoints… you never quite answer my questions.
Sorry, if you’re looking for a metaphor…
…then you are my chance encounter, my intervention….

Look! I told you there was a line, a silver line….
Like the elephant cloud, adrift….
Yes, rendering the sky, drawing it out to scale….

I liked that, I liked that very much.
It wasn’t very good. It wasn’t very much.
Sorry but I liked it, I liked it very very much.

Stop saying sorry! Why do you keep saying sorry?
I’m from out of state. Better to be safe than sorry.
I’ll take the mint then. And your utopia. And full acquittal?



This anonymous writer originally had demands, like how terza rimas that saw
themselves as villanelles should really speak to Chaucer, whose work the
anonymous writer never read but felt spoke to him. Both of them, it seems,
found their own Jeremian lamentations lazy and altogether silly. This writer
also wanted to make the new, something that drew on Huston Smith,
psychoanalysis and the Portuguese egg tart. He also read Marjorie Garber’s
Academic Instincts that finally convinced him that all the world’s knowledge
about itself lay in language and what new ones one could come up with. To
keep himself happy, he now writes his quatrains first in shorthand, to make sure
they end up buoyant and alive – helplessly simple strokes, helplessly simple

wanted: rent-artist commune for laughs
(we need to remember our saving clause)

every and any night, you are the statement like the player, yet unspoiled by the reeling
        in this city the player, another quaking pathogen to their equally virulent skanker bodies
        on the contrary, our zen stance instead; no marquis de sade head playing fast and hardball

a finger points into the antimatter, by itself grey shattered, us cyborg players in orbit
        to grow up, metaphysical evil equally tall and scraped clean of love unique and washed up
        a tuning, nervous play a rub up against buttercup bodies; both clammy portrait hands free

copping what a happy feeling; who will bear witness, made players hiking through laurels?
        horse nettle lights, swirling legion diamonds; there, another interrogation, player down!
        hobgoblin emulsion of death, and rosary peas; come yearend, another mistletoe question

no two ways about it, let the quiet come; hard to do, yes, but necessary for the forgetting
        so we keep in mind always the hope, past the spotty orbs, earthquaking glitz, the roll call;
        the player peaks a new aphoristic: what bigger play, what to press of the novice player?

an abstract need to resist the daddy worldliness, its hamstrung guarantees; look to the sun
        its thousand and one ways, no, the sun won’t hurt your eyes! like me, it doesn’t play
        both ends against the middle; no, ma’am, it doesn’t smell like puke upstairs look!

it’s already sundown, the writer left of venetian blinds; so, everyone luxuriates, yes?
        behind us yet more gawdawful character, shady figures shaping new unities, communes
        yet same old demands by every possible means; let me learn by heart all these vagaries

us shattered as statues; make the chocolate violets yourself, double-boiled and glazed
        one variegated petal at a time – are you listening? – one petal by player petal at a time
        then foil them, gum arabic; we’re fellow sufferers, reflected sympathies, same-named;

at least you slept with the archivist, blackstone sheep like royal flowers on chinaberry trees
        today is star-crossed, reason totaled; it draws laceneck doves
        players waiting wet, on stratus clouds





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