PoetryIssue 05 | June 2009

hagiography by the jordan

by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

bedspread of bast fibres, that we’ll do; to feel barren like unpainted bodies, abandoned
desolate and hollow, hydrogen; tell me there’s no forever, that’s when I’ll stop loving
white as epistles personified apostolic, carrying candles and keris daggers as if it mattered;
can your unani medicine heal me, momin? can you pilot your ghazals to escalade me
into a noble height? that we’ll do, to remember what lavish values remind us; why do we
colonise ourselves through and through, knavish sentiment, legs splayed and unguarded?
I do not feel noble; whither freedom when we hunt for it? do we chase ocean freedoms
into kharg island lands? what new sands, its reclaimed loves? does freedom kiss you back
when you blow it kisses like that fortune teller’s voice, how it breathes my jyotish wish?
I want to kiss back fond farewells, like good goodbyes; I want more, usable afternoons
when even wooden floors demand to be written and warm air emanates, whitened pillars;
and light casts itself onto ceilings as if I dared — I could walk to heaven, so time forces
itself a brevity, so time can be short, an abbreviation, stories abridged; how contrivances
count themselves into prostrate assurances; I am not as tall as salat, momin, nor as stately
or indignant; I am but suggestion, vega falling into the starburst of altair, always hopeful;
though for poets like us, our geranium eyes are bloodshot markings, same blood patterns
dry on your chapped lips; the steps are hidden in backrooms, so only sluggish aisles show;
they are like love, that is so simple when you think of it; they’re like makeshift weddings
a civil conversation, that we’ll do; and horace rises like the air here, like something poetic
from the holes in the floor; I desire no paintings of myself nor silkscreens graphing faith
I wish I had your face though, petrous and piloted as artists who draw the real; they say
you did look like this, tusche from the neck up, sombre bare existence, my similar paucity;
and we’ll let our empty bodies do the longing rest; a blink and arabesque, that we’ll do

About the author

Born in Malaysia and raised in Singapore, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé‘s work in lifestyle and developmental journalism has taken him to Australia, Cambodia, France, Hong Kong and Spain, where he’s written hundreds of stories about everyone but himself. Desmond views almost everything – names of places included – as quasi-metaphorical. Life has become much harder thinking that way. His recent work can be found in Agni, Gulf Coast, Harpur Palate, Seneca Review and Sonora Review.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok