Leeds has been in the literary news this week. I’ve also spent some time there recently, and it came up in my reading of Arthur Yap – the last of the volumes of poetry I picked up on my Singaporean visit last summer. This seems like enough of a conjunction to post this poem. Coming a generation before, Yap has poems dedicated to him by a number of the Singaporean poets I’ve featured on this blog: the first line certainly wouldn’t be out of place in a quietly affecting poem by Yong Shu Hoong, for example. If Arthur Yap is the last Singaporean poet I have for now, any ideas on which I should pick up next?

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we wandered into a new year, as if by error.
at the chinese restaurant, my vietnamese friend & i,
the only asians, ordered 2 bowls of noodles.
the waiters served graces & teeming dishes
& the good laodiceans smiled warmly & scrutably.
our noodles finally arrived,
steaming under a turned-up nose.
vu’s cossack-like cap still on his head,
my ears belonged once again to me in the warmth;
our cheer our tea, our leedsfraumilch 75,
kitchen-fresh vintage.

earlier, we had been to the plaza where x-rated films
are lined up each week, cheek by jowl. no psychological
reality, vu’s comment. i forget if i had a rejoinder.
leaving the restaurant for our hotels, we passed
austicks, bookshop & frequent haven from the cold,
brotherton library, one side of woodhouse moor:
all somewhat remotely outlined in a thin swirling snow.
his hotel first, half a mile more for me:
everything behind were already soft-focal —
snow, steaming noodles, celluloid close-ups,
& night’s myopia. next day, next year.

[Read inĀ The Space of City Trees, published by Skoob.]

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