A Partridge Beholding Sir Stamford Raffles (A Pantomime)

December 24, 1998

This poem is now published in Who Wants to Buy an Expanded Edition of a Book of Poems? (2015). It first appeared in The Straits Times (24 December 1998) as part of a series of 12 poems leading into Christmas Day.

Partridge

A Partridge Beholding Sir Stamford Raffles (A Pantomime)

Anytime now
I will disavow
the statement I made
on your head

and admit
some pigeon did it.
I am flightless after all
and you are tall —

but who are you
anyway, statue,
standing with bent arms
of bird-charms?

Are you a god?
Are these folks who nod
to sleep beneath trees
your devotees?

(Just this morning
they fed me something
to our mutual regret,
you know that.)

Do you raise gourds
or think on chessboards?
I have read in your bibles
of veiled circles,

blazing stallions,
nagas, red dragons,
swordfishes, monkeys,
frangipanis,

jungle pucks
and pontianaks.
(I am cerebrally hot,
am I not?)

But that brow
disturbs me somehow:
I have met it before
not in some lore

but through a cage
in my days of bondage.
Ah, you do not reply
or twitch an eye.

Let me tell you
from a partridge’s view
a true story that spans
the frying pans

of two worlds —
but again my spine curls.
It would whenever
I should conjure

such dreamings
of devoured siblings
(for only I escaped
salsa-draped).

Come, have the gall
in the least to recall
your younger temper
as a poacher!

Where is your sack?
Even in native black
you eke a foreignness
that professes

our shared nature
in a roulette, a capture
which, to right its wrong,
gave me a song.

So where is
that aria of pear trees
sung by your Lilith
picking her teeth?

You will not speak?
Perhaps with a kick
I may provoke you
to your hue!

Gwee Li Sui

Anytime now

I will disavow

the statement I made

on your head

and admit

some pigeon did it.

I am flightless after all

and you are tall —

but who are you

anyway, statue,

standing with bent arms

of bird-charms?

Are you a god?

Are these folks who nod

to sleep beneath trees

your devotees?

(Just this morning

they fed me something

to our mutual regret,

you know that.)

Do you raise gourds

or think on chessboards?

I have read in your bibles

of veiled circles,

blazing stallions,

nagas, red dragons,

swordfishes, monkeys,

frangipanis,

jungle pucks

and pontianaks.

(I am cerebrally hot,

am I not?)

But those brow

disturb me somehow:

I have met them before

not in some lore

but through a cage

in my days of bondage.

Ah, you do not reply

or twitch an eye.

Let me tell you

from a partridge’s view

a true story that spans

the frying pans

of two worlds —

but again my spine curls.

It would whenever

I should conjure

such dreamings

of devoured siblings

(for only I escaped

salsa-draped).

Come, have the gall

in the least to recall

your younger temper

as a poacher!

Where is your sack?

Even in native black

you eke a foreignness

that professes

our shared nature

in a roulette, a capture

which, to right its wrong,

gave me a song.

So where is

that aria of pear trees

sung by your Lilith

picking her teeth?

You will not speak?

Perhaps with a kick

I may provoke you

to your hue!

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One Response to “A Partridge Beholding Sir Stamford Raffles (A Pantomime)”


  1. I want to to thank you for this wonderful read!!


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