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


the passage, where the hurt



the bark) invisible the



cannot be written out –



if I am still

here, writing –


the leaves, the leaves



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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