Featured Poem – First Publication

by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé


J is for Jericho because it has an incredible history.

J is also for John Wilkinson.
Wilkinson’s lyric poems are a kind of varnished purity.
They glisten with every turn of phrase.
Wilkinson has a book titled Reckitt’s Blue.
The book begins with an ekphrasis of The Swing.
The woman in The Swing is wearing a pink dress.
It could be carmine or coral or amaranth.
In Tornada, there are flames and how they smoulder.
The final two lines are portentous.
There’s the image of a bat, pink like the woman.
How it glides through a vast body of light.
Sundown in Jericho had the same orange-pink.
Jericho is the City of Palm Trees.
There were settlements there as far back as 9000BC.
I named a character Jeremiah.
It had the same burst of sound as Jericho.
Then there was Geronimo too.
I knew a woman from Jericho.
She showed me the scars across her chest.
She used her finger to trace its line.
I could hardly see it because she had a tattoo.
Right across, it was a bridge of all kinds of flowers.
They might have been carmine or coral or amaranth.
She told me her cat climbed Zaccheus’ Tree.
What did he see? I asked.
Enough of Jericho, she said.
She told me about the monastery.
It’s built on a cliff on the Mount of Temptation.
She said she ate dates there, and scattered the seeds.
What did you see? I asked.
All of Jericho, she said.

J is for the joy of small acquaintances.




Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé is the author of the epistolary novel, Singular Acts of Endearment, as well as three poetry collections. The poetry books are titled: I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist, The Arbitrary Sign, and Sanctus Sanctus Dirgha Sanctus. Founding editor of Squircle Line Press, Desmond has edited over fifteen books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. Trained in publishing at Stanford University, with a theology masters (world religions) from Harvard University and fine arts masters (creative writing) from the University of Notre Dame, his honors include the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize, Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, Notre Dame Poetry Fellowship, National Arts Council Creation Grant, NAC Gardens-by-the-Bay Residency, Singapore International Foundation Grant, Stepping Stones Nigeria Poetry Prize, and Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize, among other awards. An interdisciplinary artist, Desmond also works in clay, his ceramic works housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, UK, and USA.


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. Silke Schmickl | Lowave

    Hi Jee,

    I hope this finds you well and that spring in NY is great! I adore following your blog and your emails are a welcome pause in my aaaah so busy life!

    I have a small question: is there a way to go through all the poems you featured on your website? I am doing some poetry research at the moment (for my Singapour mon amour project in Paris) and would love to explore the archive of what you have published on the blog. I am mainly looking for urban poetry and would love to read some of your poems too.

    Merci merci and all my best to you,



    Ms Silke Schmickl Curator ✮ Head of Lowave

    Innovative Curatorial Projects http://www.lowave.com


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