CI | Somehow

I get up too,
propping myself

on my arms—

staring deep into her grey eyes.

Tammie has already

She doesn’t remember

the deaths,
the faces,
the names.

I’m going to forget,

aren’t I?

She gives me
an apologetic smile.




It’s been a while
since I did any painting—

so much has happened

even though
no time has passed
at all.

The weight of
my memories

get lighter

with every minute

that passes by.


I can’t let it fade.

Before the sun sets

I’m going
to remember

all of them.

I set up the easel by the window,

as many canvases

as I can carry.

There’s no time,

I’ll make do
with just a few

I dip my brush into the black paint,
recite the names

and spell them out

on the canvas.

I know
they are watching me

from behind the walls.

They’re always watching—
nothing I can do about that.

That won’t stop me.

I have to do
everything I can

to remember.

I paint Elliot,
what I remember of his corpse,
the plastic knife at his throat.

I paint Mason,
what’s left of him anyway.

I paint Fatima,
the blood that soaked into her bones
even after she’s dead.

I paint
those I don’t remember clearly,
and those I do.

her enigmatic smile, her eyes
that don’t see anymore.

his neck twisted impossibly,
his body cold and lonely without Li Wen.

forever alone.

her face scowling, her hands
clutching thin air.

with his plastic ear,
head bashed in, eyes wide,
lips mouthing my name.

Li Wen,
who died with a smile
and pursed blue lips.

his private parts, his guts cut open
and spilling out.

food still in his hands:
Marie biscuits.
His face is purple.

Zuraida and Siti,
their hair woven together,
all severed limbs
and dismembered parts.

surrounded by her fairies,
plastic knife jutting from her throat.

Wei Xiang and Oman,
but their eyes are open,
as they burn to death.


There’s more,

there’s more.

But I don’t remember


I’m crying when Moonlight Sonata
fills the main hall.

I ignore the nurse
calling my name.

I don’t want to forget.

The nurses gather
like vultures,

white vultures.

Standing behind me,

peering my gallery of corpses.

My replica of the room
they want me to forget.

The patients
have come to see too.

I look into each one’s eyes
so I’ll remember them

when I have to paint their corpses.

One person’s missing.

I remember him
watching Tammie dance,
jerking off.

‘I have to paint Benny,’
I babble to the nurse

who says I can
do it later.

‘I have to paint him
‘before you make me forget.’

She takes the paintbrush
from me,

drags me to my armchair.

I resist at first
but then, I see Tammie

patting the cushions,
smiling apologetically.

I relinquish control.

My anxiety dissipates
with the melody of Moonlight Sonata’s
second movement.

is the most important.




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