On Minimalism – Two Poems

I was invited to read at The National Gallery Singapore on 24 Feb together with a bunch of really cool poets – Momtaza Mehri, Charlene Shepherdson, Jennifer Champion and Tse Hao Guang. We were responding to Minimalism. Space. Light. Object. an ongoing exhibition at NGS, either to the individual exhibits or on themes of form/anti-form, light or space. I wrote two new pieces for the reading. The first was after Tatsuo Miyajima’s Mega Death, where I spotted a single number counting up against an entire room of descending numbers.


From distance, 
a pulsing envelope of blue magic 
beckons in irregular heartbeats, 
a chorus for the clicking crowd 

Seen up close, 
one number counts upwards 
while the rest descend like a
herd reasoning down to zero

One number walks upslope
an improbable anomaly
a refugee refusing order 
a sheep swallowing the language of wolves

The other numbers blink furiously 
as they chase zero, starting over
at their own pace, making up 
the apparition of a faceless crowd, 
lights going on in a silent room. 

The lone number climbs
against the tide, against all logical proof; 
glitch in the system, broken integer. 

Like that one child in class who keeps 
raising a hand to ask question 
after question, dissatisfied, 
holding up the diminishing lesson, 
holding time itself with a clenched fist, 
wired for a different world. 

The other poem drew its inspiration from Jiro Takamatsu’s pair of 1971 artworks titled Oneness of Wood and Oneness of Concrete. I tried to embody the idea of words contained within words through a series of haiku, where the four successive haiku that followed the first one comprised of words drawn from the latter.


Here is the earth and 
here we find, body broken 
between unread lines

Here the line is broken
body and earth 

Find the unread body 
broken earth 
here, and here 

Earth lines,
find the broken here, unread, 

Here between the earth
and body, we unread 

Author: Marc

Creative educator. Sometime photographer. Fiddler of words.