This poem has been translated from Chinese by Tan Inn Shin, along with the poet Tan Chee Lay. Read the original here.
reading in between tattoos
a dyslexic youth
puffing on cigarette butts
in a weightless time
drilling a facial hole
through a thick-skinned youth
watching porn and pretending
unchanged lives have a genuine orgasm
cursing with the foulest language
at self-criticism and self-pity
scribbling graffiti on the wall
as if self-mutilating
swinging chopper better than shaking pen
untucked uniforms, such as misplaced responsibility
showing the biggest middle finger to the staring world
until finally the world turns
About the poet
Born and bred in Singapore, Dr. Tan Chee Lay is an Associate Professor of Chinese Literature at NTU and the Executive Director (R&D) of the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language. He has a BA in Chinese, MA in English, MBA and PhD. He has won the Golden Point Award, Young Artist Award, Singapore Youth Award (Art and Culture) and has published over 20 creative writing and scholarly books. His recent publications include Landmark Poetics of the Lion City (poetry, 2017). Besides creative writing and academic research, he enjoys Chinese calligraphy, painting and badminton.
About the translator
Tan Inn Shin is a bilingual secondary student who enjoys literature, besides dancing and baking.