Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
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Vol. 2 No. 4 Jul 2003

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A Famosa (the gap)

an army from Majapahit of number beyond counting
forced Parasamawara further up the peninsular, that
famous Raja arriving by elephant under a yellow umbrella
while below the smell of clove cigarettes from an
open museum window – sharp edges of complexity
smoothed over & layers solidified (the hooks carefully
set to keep people apart not a part) – through that gap
threaded one needle from each household, a shipload of
needles from the Raja of China & for dinner a rich laksa
(with cockles) cooked on the street [grand narratives
always leave out what’s in the soup] while Chinese
traders carved names in gold characters & ordered
famille rose (China from China) then – in fact long
before then – Parasamawara’s dream of a ship from
Jeddah: what means all this bobbing up & down? [later
the almighty spat into his mouth that he might read]
there were then three cities of greatness:
Majapahit, Pasai & Melaka.

but: a lined globe, ships bearing white crosses, White
Bengalis with flashes of fire, matchlocks like ground
-nuts popping in the frying-pan while Sultan Ahmed
came forth mounted on his elephant Jituji (... had the
wound been but half a rice grain deeper ...), no one
knows the part played by the cannons named Dragon of
the Waves & The Swimming Frog, a late walk-on
perhaps during the seepage in the middle where no
one’s looking [a reverse hallucination?]: the long white
pipes from Batavia poured in through that gap & out
poured rubber solidifying into tires which carried an
army (of number beyond counting) of talking sauce
bottles back into the villages exclaiming baru! baru! baru!
every aiskrim will skrim baru a famosa! baru a samosa!
baru famili! baru a formosa! a formosa in the form of a
hole in the ground, former home of the remains of a
saint but that hole is not all that remains (add
very hot stock & scatter with fresh mint leaves).

By D.J. Huppatz

QLRS Vol. 2 No. 4 Jul 2003


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  Other Poems in this Issue

The House After Her Death
By Amjad Nasser.

Mosquito Wars
By Judith Huang.

By Vernyce Dannells.

the girl who could love you
By Alvin Pang.

Picture the Children
By Mani Rao.

Speaking For My Father
By Jeremy Lim Mun Loong.

By Grace Chua.

Total Recall
By Srinjay Chakravarti.

From Deadly Pollen
By Stephen Oliver.


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