Excerpt 11 from “Gigi’s Graphologist & The Ngadhu Gecko”

Read Excerpts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten.

chén cí làn diào :: of hackneyed stereotypes
by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé


“My wife liked how enigmatic Mary Magdalene was,” Dr. Eichelberger said. “She liked how many Marys there were in scripture, and how they started being conflated with each other through the ages. She felt similarly, with an identity as cobbled together. Like a montage. A sense of self as splintered, split open like an apple in half. That’s an awful analogy. It brings to mind the idea of the Fall, that idea alone so foreign to me now. I grew up almost entirely with it. Original sin and all. And once academia weened me off of it, I’ve thought very little about it.” Dr. Eichelberger pounded the heel of his right hand on his thigh, as if stabbing himself with a knife. “It feels like this.” He punched himself in the thigh again, then brought the hand to his heart, and boxed it twice, as if knocking on a door. “Original sin feels like this. It’s funny how ideas can leave such a deep impact on us. There is the deep scarring, and that’s left behind as well. To grow up believing there’s a path everyone walks. As if the human race were in a march, and this solidarity ensured its continuity. In fact, that all this was not some act of evolutionary necessity, but a sort of innate desire, a real want not at odds with the truth of human desire. But then, you marry, in love with the person you’re marrying, but really you’re in love with someone else. The rings are exchanged, as are the vows. She writes her own, but you take yours from a book shelved in a bookstore. And you tell her those are your own words, and she glows, as if the effort was a reassurance that she married the right man. The real words are never made. Never created. Out of fear, of what might be admitted. And in that admission, of the awful consequences that might ensue. The confession is such a terrible thing, and the vow is a confession that you can’t retract.”



Singapore Poetry DKon Sleeping Facemask 01 copy

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

    You’re the best of the BEST, Jee Leong! A real honour to have had this series on your wonderful creative space!!! BIG HUGZ!!!


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