Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

The Dual Body

The Dual Body

By Yeow Kai Chai

After Rhee Ki-Bong’s installation at the Singapore Biennale 2008, in which a copy of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) is adrift in a blue aquarium

glomming and gluing…a tide slowly discharges,
new arrivals and sleeps, to form another creature:
white pages flap in a wittgenstein ray,
or is a dead gull adrift? recognise who (what) is staring back,
come all ye faithful, is to move toward its vanishing point…
glazed with mirror after freak.

shrouded in mist, illumed on plinth, a freak
rises, lapping proud and out. milky river discharges
and a mewling, webbed and wets, at this point
a cell goes off, glances off the axil of a creature,
an eye, a coccyx, a claw across wide open back
while, in a puff of grey or a morning ray,

weary lazarus carries joannes to his crypt, rays
gliding through the blues. o, mola mola of my freak
dream! your clavus, my rudder, and i’ll always have your back
in this rotator, a teacher shepherds charges
around delicate endoskeletons, a dried creature 
propped on a pedestal in the middle, you point

to me, my disembodied reflect. at an acute point
of a discussion between two noses on ray
harryhausen’s stop-motion creatures,
gingerly raises a flipper—a freak
moment whereupon all stand and the coelom discharges…
laugh! cry! you come from the blues, you go back

to unerring blues. dimmer, i make out your sexy back,
outlined against salar de uyuni. these plains point
to a never-ending clavicle, aligning sky and white discharges;
and if one stares long enough, through rays
and hips of near-submerged volcanoes, a freak
downpour will come soon… such creature

comforts are rare, but look—cacti, flamingo, and creatures
that resemble rabbits. whatchacallit? viscachas? back
hunched or upright, ears erect or floppy, freak
or standard fit, we stick to rules and regulations that point
to a way of life that makes us feel good, rays
beamed through cumulonimbus, and electric discharges

through a point so sharp, a creature is zapped
and another discharged… freaks and monsters
like us, dazed, back out into the dark, rays raining down.


Yeow Kai Chai

Yeow Kai Chai works as a journalist with The Straits Times, an English daily in Singapore. A co-editor of Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, he has two poetry collections, Secret Manta and Pretend I'm Not Here. His third book, One To The Dark Tower Comes, is in progress.

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