Arlene Ang



In current experiments on the postwoman

we have her stand under an umbrella. She has nine fingers wrapped around the handle. The day is bleak and defaces her features. From a distance, the rain swallows her like a birdcage. She is wearing something red—a coat perhaps, or blood. The passersby repeat themselves on the sidewalk. They sport a gait that is the result of micro-amputations from squirrel bites or storm accidents. We’ve closed all the shops where she is scheduled to deliver mail. She doesn’t remember where she’s parked her motorcycle. The downpour appears to have stolen her vision. Previously, we have ascertained that the postwoman is not a bat and doesn’t function on radar. This spurs her to ask those coming her way the reason why she is at work when others have gone home. We observe the fury in her and how it is affecting the dormant fury in others. She is shouting, and everyone else is shouting back at her. She throws her house key on the ground, like a dead hamster. We study it closely. It could be important. It could be a sign that a keyhole or a fist is due to appear. Any moment now.



The incarceration of the man holding a wine bottle

takes place in the cat’s vomit. There’s claustrophobia there, too—between those bean clusters. And a coin, shaped into a world. You remember putting the penny last night in your mouth, like a nipple. The metallic taste constructed its ruins among your teeth. The first time you tried to poison sewer rats, you killed something else. And now you’re out of milk again. You take out the empty cartons from the garbage bag and look at the missing faces. How cold your hands feel around the tabby’s neck. The phone buzzes, a kind of pocket jingling. You don’t grab the receiver because it is not a shovel. There’s time for that later. For moving bodies. For holding that man’s head underwater knowing he’s you. For grieving all those secret hate letters lost to arson. Outside the night drinks from a satellite dish iced with stars. You put that coin away every time, and then pull it out of a stranger’s ear, like a genie from the lamp.


Plate IV: Black Ink on White

A freight train disintegrates the ashtray. And the gray rings left on the mahogany table by cold glasses. What was the suicide thinking when his face fell and crushed the centipede? Here’s a father worn down by the habit of living. His coat is street lamps and blue-bottle flies. Hasn’t it always been like this, Herr Doctor? My mother, as you’ve already guessed, wore her boots while giving birth to my dead brother. The spurs left tracks on the back of my hands. Sometimes I see him in the postcards I receive during summer. He is either in shavasana or captivity. He is small, like a squint. I touch wood and find him in the splinter.

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