Jerrold Yam


            Explore the way
it rises from
            nothing, what
this teaches about
            dignity. On the table
of furrowed wood,
            knives coaxing butter
out of sleep.
            I wonder how
my father thinks,
           crumbs drying over
his mouth so he
           never requires more
than what I have grown
           used to confessing.
I trace the dough’s
           burnt handwriting
with my tongue.


Leave us. There is no generosity
in unwelcome surprise. Already
the neighbour’s yard clenches its
earthen jaw in anticipation; kids
sprint to windows upon waking.
If you have to cheat in the middle
of the night, vanish by morning.
Tell me how kindness works in
taming an undependable person.


Few things sadder
than your inconsistencies.
First, a quandary of rocks
scattered in jest, each smeared
with their own handwriting.
Second, no place to call
a sanctuary, no one there
without taking you
for granted. Third, an occasional
burst of remonstrance to show
you are alive, buried
in melancholic soil. Anything
that is beaten is impressive
while it lasts.


If the sole purpose of art
is to mimic nature, there
are no success stories to
be found in bricks. Study
the way nothing is built.
Use forts for pictures as
you would a friend, one
errand at a time. Parents
cannot tell the difference,
busy shepherding people
who will outlive the lies.
No one has conceded so
far as home is concerned.


User Guide
After everyone got someone
to walk them home I believe
we should consider marriage.

Basic Functions
Not waking to doors falling
back in place, but the script
of water in a palm of steel.

Yet you do not mind being used
as I accelerate to more sobering
industry. What could go wrong?

Safety and Warranty Information
Tell me you see what I cannot
feel. Absence gathers like rust
in the driest corner of a room.

Copyright © Jerrold Yam 2013

Born in 1991, Jerrold Yam is a law undergraduate at University College London and the author of two poetry collections by Math Paper Press, Scattered Vertebrae (2013) and Chasing Curtained Suns (2012). His poems have been published in more than fifty literary journals worldwide, including Antiphon, Counterexample Poetics, Mascara Literary Review, Prick of the Spindle, The New Poet, Third Coast and Washington Square Review. He is the winner of the National University of Singapore’s Creative Writing Competition 2011, and the youngest Singaporean to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize. (