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´┐Ż
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