Wednesday, March 21, 2007


In Mother’s womb, we started as a pair of lungs,
sea slugs hanging on to a reef. We grew toe rays,
brain sponges and gonads relaxed by the liquid song.

The Doppler ultrasound echoed our submarine
and found us one. The truth was monozygotic—
we sucked each other’s nub of thumb inside the brine.

When, headfirst, we were unceremoniously expelled,
we were halved like an egg sliced with a line of hair.
A beak plucked at the cord and knotted my navel.

Mother never speaks of you although I know
you were with me at sea. How else to understand
my panic playing hide-and-seek, the cracked canoe,

wet dreams of touching a man, waking up, a curse
crying, not knowing why, like a turtle washed ashore,
a lacquered carapace—these shimmering absences?


Rui said...

yes, i love this one. brilliant, and so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Jee Leong, I love your work! I'm so excited for the book to come out, and I will be first in line at the bookstore. I just wanted to say thanks for all the great work you do- I also admire that you are a teacher as well as a poet- if you only taught your students to be half as great as you are, the world of poetry would be a much brighter place.

Angie said...

Wow! My first time here but definitely not my last.

I'll be looking for your book here in Chicago. Meanwhile, thank you for blogging.

vmh said...

This is really very beautiful. I teared up. Touching and so evocative.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi rui, thanks for the adjectives!

Hi Anon, I appreciate your comment about me being a teacher as well as a poet. The two sometimes bicker and fight, but are still cohabiting so far.

Hi angie, thanks for dropping by. See you again, perhaps.

vmh, here's a hankie. My best silk one with lacey edges.

Jee Leong

Anonymous said...

are your pupils at school learning poetry from you? They should be. I think you would be a great teacher and your students would benefit greatly from your expertise in poetry. I love your poems. the imagery is just graphic enough without being disturbing.


Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi, thanks for your kind comments. I am teaching poetry reading and writing in school.

Anonymous said...

What school do you teach at Jee???

red said...


you managed to manipulate my emotions for this one. i simply love it.


Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, red.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jee! So... I heard you were a teacher from the other comments here. I wonder, just like others on this blog, what school do you teach at? You are a brilliant poet and i now know about your poetry and backround, but like others here we want to know what school you teach at. Please do tell? Btw your poetry is some of the best i've read in a long time, you should be proud!

The Word said...

Wonderful, whispering sensitivity! x

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks for reading!

Pablito said...

"Brother" is the best kind of poem, the one you recognize you could have written if only you had the words. When I told my mother I was gay, she, a mother of twins, said, "Maybe you should have been twins." This poem is a genuine gift. Gracias, former headhunter!

Jee Leong Koh said...

Nicely put. You describe what I hope my poems are.