Excerpt 2 from “Gigi’s Graphologist & The Ngadhu Gecko”

The second part of an eleven-part series. Read Excerpt 1 first.

qīng ér yì jǔ :: something easily done
by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

It’s not common for a therapist to start a session with food. Dr. Eichelberger made this another habit. He’d offer assorted hors d’oeuvres, colorful curiosities on a silver tray or porcelain dish. Deli meats, with a wedge of cheese. Sliced from a Pimiento or Pepper loaf. Cod roe, or sometimes even Sevruga caviar. Freshly toasted bruschetta. Beside it, a shallow bowl of olive oil. With the bruschetta, he had the habit of picking them up with his forefinger and third finger, the way chopsticks do. He took three for himself, a kind number he said, after which he knocked back a tequila shot. Alcohol was also permitted during therapy, a technique to loosen his clients around the edges, get them to drop their guard and speak with less inhibition, thereby committing more deeply to the process. A healthy method, he said. He made sure not to call his clients “patients”, this Gigi overheard once when he was speaking to another doctor. He had recommended a “patient” to a bona fide asylum, using the word out of carelessness, then correcting himself quickly. Were these serious cases? What did they do to warrant his forwarding their case to another specialist? Were they violent there, in the room? Were they a danger to themselves, or to their loved ones? Or worse, to larger society? “That was a complicated case study,” Dr. Eichelberger said to Gigi before spooning some roe into his mouth.  He said case study. Not case. Again, as if he’s put this man in a separate box. The box had the same shape and color, but it had been placed in a different room.


Singapore Poetry DKon Mask 09

Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé helms Squircle Line Press as its founding editor and publisher. He is the author of The Arbitrary Sign (Red Wheelbarrow Books), with I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist(Math Paper Press) forthcoming in 2014. He has edited more than ten books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. A former entertainment journalist with 8 Days, Desmond has traveled to Australia, France, Hong Kong and Spain for his stories, which have included features on Madonna, Björk and Morgan Freeman, culminating in the authorship of the limited edition Top Ten TCS Stars for Caldecott Publishing. Trained in publishing at Stanford University, Desmond studied sociology and mass communication at the National University of Singapore, and later received his theology masters (world religions) from Harvard University and fine arts masters (creative writing) from the University of Notre Dame. An interdisciplinary artist, Desmond also works in clay, his ceramic works housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. He is the recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize, Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, Notre Dame Poetry Fellowship, NAC Writer-in-the-Gardens Residency, Stepping Stones Nigeria Poetry Prize, and Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize.


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. Desmond Kon

    Mua Mua, Jee Leong! Thanks so much, as always. You’re a total gem!


  2. datta2014

    In the process of narrative,introduction of alcohol,to make the clients speak with less inhibition, and towards the end,the doctor’s concern with the clients,their behavior elsewhere,his differentiating case study from case–all so interesting,informative. Appreciate it.


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