Beatific Musings

Yong Shu Hoong

Where are my cottage days of '55,
My Berkeley?

Eager to be a travelling Beat poet,
I got myself stoned on wanderlust
before making my passage
from Denver's bloodied sunrise
into the sly-eyed slant of
Sacramento's afternoon light.
Along the way, I siphoned inspiration from
every moving image
every passing landscape,
shuddering to think:
what was America to Kerouac
that he sang with such glee?
And then a little later:
what was Singapore to me
that I had to scale the breadth
of wild America for sacred wisdom?
My mind sought out possible City Lights
and North Beach hideouts upon my sunny shores.
And finding none, I tried my damnest
to come up with alternative venues
for weaving artistry and ambitions—
Maybe Sydney and Melbourne,
some secluded Malaysian isles,
or haunted hills in Java.
But in sterile Singapore,
where should I even begin
looking for beauty:
The concrete heartland?
The landscaped greens?
Our detoxified river?

Unwilling to admit
that I had been robbed
of character in my own backyard,
I decide to reach deep beyond
the sparkles of glass and steel
into the Great Inbetween and hidden fires,
breaking the pus off secret wounds
to find butt-naked the cultures
of my constipated tribe.

Published in Isaac (1997)

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature Yong Shu Hoong