After a certain hour buildings don’t make sense.
Lights from across the street
resemble nothing, my footsteps
knocking on uneven stones, not bothered
by their own discordant melody. I would see
different people in different rooms,
hunched over desks or gazing out at traffic,
a phone nestled in the carapace
of an ear, mouths
shaping words that have no meaning
other than the small importances we give them.
To see my life before me
would be to know the end of fear. Walking home
on damp pockets of road, every lane
drenched in its indifferent perfume
of rain and dirt, I could be so smug
as to find comfort disconcerting,
catching glimpses of whole,
unharvested years
quietly burning in the shadows of a life
still running its race for relevance.
Somewhere in the middle
there is adventure, maybe even love,
and on nights when everyone leaves early
my body aches with an inertia
of past indulgences.
What now? Only a record of
undeserved kindnesses: a casual nod
from the cafeteria waiter, an overladen sky
keeping from release, new interns
grinning in a glass elevator,
things that wait for the night to end.

 

Jerrold Yam

Jerrold Yam

Born in 1991, Jerrold Yam is a law undergraduate at University College London and the author of poetry collections Scattered Vertebrae (Math Paper Press, 2013) and Chasing Curtained Suns (Math Paper Press, 2012). His third collection is forthcoming in 2014. His poems have been published across twenty countries in more than seventy literary journals, including Axon, Counterexample Poetics, Mascara Literary Review, Poetry Pacific, Prairie Schooner, Third Coast, Wasafiri and Washington Square Review, as well as featured by Overseas Singaporean Unit, Poetry Society (UK), Singapore Memory Project, Southeast Asia Globe, The Arts House, The Straits Times, The Substation and elsewhere. His work has been selected for anthologies such as Off the Rocks (2014), Mildly Erotic Verse (2013), Petua (2013), Ayam Curtain (2012) and Moving Words (2011). He has won first prize and three honourable mentions at the National University of Singapore Creative Writing Competition 2011, first prize at the British Council History and the City Competition 2011, runner-up at the Poetry Book Society Student Poetry Competition 2013, and is the youngest Singaporean to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize at twenty years old in 2012. He has been featured at Interrobang Festival, London Book Fair and Singapore Writers Festival, and invited to speak at various educational institutions in Singapore such as National University of Singapore, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Anglican High School. His poems, which are taught in Singaporean schools, have recently been translated into Spanish.

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