New Poems by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

The poems below by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé will appear in his forthcoming collection Reading to Ted Hesburgh (Squircle Line Press and Glass Lyre Press, 2017).


f is for form and finitude
by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé


seeing that there’s saliva all over the apple
like her tongue the wallpaper she’s wrapped
around her waist like a wedding lehenga
its train like a red carpet rolled out today
labrador chewing on its tuareg patterns
the pictures too speaking magenta parables
figural hyperbole unloosed and set free
because repeating and calling out a name
doesn’t make it ring true like friday’s news
a troika or gilded chariot sans russian horses
triune but for its quivering menorah flames
never meeting for helen where again
repeating a name doesn’t smother or dwarf
the metaphors that already glut her mind
excessive and cataractal and in an instant
she’ll know knowledge or the gestalt
that forms her own shadowed tentative steps
the way borges read milton’s lycidas
or his samson agonistes eyeless in gaza
what life from within matter and schein
looks like and the differences that exist
within as if room against purpling room
section of glass against wiped down pane
the air before and after the honeymoon rain




q is for qualitas
Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé


in view of how in these walled towns
there are plazas bigger than borough markets
the houses rattier and thereby begrudging
the designated square seedier the corners
darker and children smaller more alarming
hungry and hostile and absent as if to ask
like the man born blind whether this is light
these bulbs as his frail fingers run across
the chandelier to ask what about this flame
its mint white and why call this lightning
why the thunderous sound its continuance
the way one utters sein in set sequences
as if to insinuate being into existence and
becoming the way no one is to be blamed
and who can blame his wife for not knowing
what to sweetly say or what not to say around
what he calls home and mother country
the nave of it with its quaint lace of cottages
where the aging newspaper man talks shop
the wilson’s warbler eating from an awning
and judgement is rendered universal or
particular or individual like the pawner
behind his iron grills as a chipping sparrow
inspects his chair its wrought iron curves



Desmond Kon









Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé is the author of an epistolary novel, two hybrid works, and seven poetry collections. A former journalist, he has edited more than fifteen books and co-produced three audio books. Among other accolades, Desmond is the recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Poetry World Cup, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award, Independent Publisher Book Award, National Indie Excellence Book Award, Singapore Literature Prize, two Beverly Hills International Book Awards, and two Living Now Book Awards. He helms Squircle Line Press as its publisher and founding editor.

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. Thanks so much, Jee, for taking these poems! Muah Muah!!!


  2. Indu K.Mallah

    Continued congrats. Desmond! Keep it up! Cheers, Indu.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael

    my goodness, desmond, where did you come from. While I would agree, as elsewhere you write, to your soldering in worldly influences, these poems are tropical dense, and saturated as our endless summers, as you would find in things distinctly Singapore. i look forward to googling your work.


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