Three poems by Alvin Pang

 
Familiar

“When people I vaguely recognise come up to me at readings and tell they knew me a long, long time ago (with a knowing smile), I do worry. Where? When?”
            – Bernardine Evaristo

I knew you in a past life, maybe more. Kathmandu, Spring 1634. We swam the Yangtze, 903 BC (it wasn’t really called that yet). We climbed a hill that’s now Tibet. We terrorised the Adriatic sea as rival kinds of dinosaur. I was rich and you were poor. Our clans competed in the mammoth trade. I sold the blankets that you made. Your social virus left me lame. We were singing when the Romans came. (I thought I’d heard your song before).
 
(published in Other Things and Other Poems)
 
 
In the End

the things we love give back
our names. One handed me a
plain stone to carve into something
better. Another returned the long
lost user guide to my left brain.
Someone passed a slip of paper,
my inscrutable handwriting
on one side, and on the other
in bright colours, the words
“I Want It All”. Others brought
flowers – irises, daffodils,
the soft unpeeled heart of a rose.
None of the clothes fit any longer.
I put aside the books I’d read,
and hadn’t read, they took flight
as endless stairs, circling
beyond my years. But I loved
most of all the quiet
Sundays, when fingers of rain
would write themselves
on the clear page of my window,
dying to tell me their stories.
 
(published in City of Rain (Ethos Books, 2003)
 
 
Untitled Haiku
 
想拥有你的我.
翻身看窗外
飘落雪花的我.

the I that wants you
and the I that turns aside
to watch the snow fall

屋顶没阴影
等待你的视线
也可能是秋天

no shade on the roof
waiting for sight of you
it might as well be fall
 
(previously unpublished)
 
 
Alvin Pang (b.1972, Singapore) was Singapore’s Young Artist of the Year for Literature in 2005, and received the Singapore Youth Award for Arts and Culture in 2007. A poet, writer, editor, and translator, he has appeared in major festivals and publications worldwide and his work has been translated into over fifteen languages. His recent publications include Tumasik: Contemporary Writing from Singapore (Autumn Hill:2009), Other Things and Other Poems (Brutal, Croatia: 2012) and Waiting for the Barbarians (Arc Publications,UK: 2012). Follow him on Twitter @alfpang