by Ng Yi-Sheng
One day they will come for us:
the foolish ones, the intellectuals.
One day we will burn
like scrolls in Alexandria.
One day they will break down the gates
of our black box operas and ateliers.
Rip the masks from our faces
and the angklungs from our hands.
they’ve sacked a museum,
outlawed an Aztec epic.
They’ve dynamited an Afghan Buddha,
a Dutch Madonna,
censored a film.
the Khmer Rouge just called;
they want to take your photo.
The revolution must always devour
her brightest children.
Tonight you may sleep with them,
eat of their festivals, drink of their mooncake,
engineer their Moscow mausoleums –
but never forget:
One day, they will come,
a mighty parade, in a stadium built of our bones.
Open your mouth and sing:
it has always happened,
it has not happened, yet.
Reprinted with the author’s permission, “The Audience” first appeared in Tumasik: Contemporary Writing from Singapore (Autumn Hill Books), edited by Alvin Pang and funded by the National Arts Council of Singapore.
Ng Yi-Sheng is a writer of poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction and journalism. His books include the poetry collection last boy, which won the Singapore Literature Prize 2008, and a novelisation of the movie “Eating Air”. He has also co-edited GASPP: A Gay Anthology of Singapore Poetry and Prose and Eastern Heathens: Asian Folklore Subverted. He co-organises the monthly multidisciplinary event SPORE Art Salon and the annual queer literary reading ContraDiction. His new collection, Anthems, will showcase his body of slam poems.