Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Two poems

Two poems

By Tse Hao Guang

One and Three Chairs

I refuse to draw ethical conclusions from
moulded wood. Tell the truth about shattered
histories, tell me stories of the seed that gave birth

to forests. One: where a branch is slow-roasted over
a flame, charcoaled, packaged, sold to school-
children told to sit, please, sketch this.

Two: where soft logs are cured, pulped,
chemicalised, bleached, and browned again to
taste, cut, pretending, like us, to be perfectly blank

slates ready to receive. Three: where old forests fall
(and no one listens) into the hollow curve of
earth and gather, peating to coal, to black

gold, to poison gas, set aflame and twisted
into artificial lightning, speeding through wires,
powering pixels that flicker at a touch. Speak to me

of the mind that saw these bones, these ashes, and
resurrected thoughts of itself proud against
the wall. There are no chairs here.

* * *

Bak Kut Teh¹

Heart of a thing is a catalyst, uncovered
inside out and left. The work of many
pairs of hands clots to the cream of coin.
Something grew the spices, someone bled
the pig. Somehow views were sought. Spoil,
all the careful mouths agree, already.

Serenity spreads like dengue fever.
How many times they tried to off the tap,
off the lights, off the sensors singing
at the stairwell? Are posters also lovers
who wanted to be want? Foodies dripping
with sweat agree in words and pages: sedap!

Which critic will praise it, officially
endorse it, shopping centre coupon redeem
it? Trust of a thing is a sickness, sorrowful,
rarely wrought. Remember how it’s quietly
starting up again, as it does, as a pool
of spit must dry. Tea spills past the rim.

One day perhaps the sun might slip aside
and keep itself within the limits of laundry,
and undaunted by earnest, measured utilities
we discover the marrow, once derided,
uncovered by the thing, held by similes
and newsprint, now loosed, always hungry.

¹Bak Kut Teh: Pork Bone Soup with Tea, a popular Chinese dish


Tse Hao Guang

Tse Hao Guang is interested in form and formation, creativity and quotation, lyrics and line breaks. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in QLRS, Tincture, Softblow, Third Coast, and elsewhere. His chapbook is hyperlinkage (Math Paper P). He is currently studying at the University of Chicago.

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