Light Verse

“Light Verse” is the final poem of 3 Sections, the entertaining and enlightening volume by American poet Vijay Seshadri. The “big tower // in Singapore” mentioned in the poem is, according to the poet, the tower of Republic Plaza, one of the three tallest skyscrapers in the country. As Seshadri has not been to Singapore, he must have seen the tower in a film, he thought, perhaps the one with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The poem is, however, about Elvis.

Light Verse

(Standard Time begins)

It’s just five, but it’s light like six.
It’s lighter than we think.
Mind and day are out of sync.
The dog is restless.
The dog’s owner is sleeping and dreaming about Elvis.
The treetops should be dark purple,
but they’re pink.

Here and now. Here and now.
The sun shakes off an hour.
The sun assumes its pre-calendrical power.
(It is, though, only what we make it seem.)
Now in the dog-owner’s dream,
the dog replaces Elvis and grows bigger
than that big tower

in Singapore, and keeps on growing until
he arrives at a size
with which only the planets can empathize.
He sprints down the ecliptic’s plane,
chased by his owner Jane
(that’s not really her name), who yells at him
to come back and synchronize.

by Vijay Seshadri, from 3 Sections

Copyright © 2013 by Vijay Seshadri
Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press.


About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.


  1. datta2014

    Dear JeeLeong Koh,
    Now in the dog-owner’s dream,
    the dog replaces Elvis and grows bigger
    than that big tower
    in Singapore,
    There is a wonderful mention about the tower, there is something catchy about the the dog replacing Elvis.
    Big tower must have captured his imagination for its grandeur,memory and beauty. Appreciate it.


  2. Dear datta2014, I agree that that passage is very song-like.


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