Joshua Ip (translation from Chinese, from the Tang Dynasty)
These are anachronistic translations – the locale is shifted from ancient China to modern Singapore, and the more familiar voices of passing tourists or migrant workers are re-established with familiar sentiments of the ancient poet, whether on loss, alienation, or sorrow.
morning at joo chiat
moon dips below the crowcalls, morning mist
and katong streetlights bowing in repose.
subuh: from masjid khalid’s minaret,
the muezzin’s call reaches the sleeping tourists.
remembering Sakthivel Kumaravelu
alone. an alien in an alien land.
each festival missed multiplies the missing.
my brother, i heard you tried to board a bus.
this year’s lamb sacrifice—one person missing.
每逢 佳节 倍思亲。
遍插 茱萸 少一人。
i heard of marina bay, and so i scaled the sands.
this pool that parts the kallang and the other,
and holds the durians and the lotus flower.
no letter this time. old, and sick,
a mastless junk. my home, the thunder of hooves
in my chest, and fifty-seven stories of tears.
Joshua Ip is a Singaporean poet, editor and literary organizer. He has published four poetry collections, edited ten anthologies, and co-founded Sing Lit Station, an over-active literary charity. His latest collection of anachronistic translations of Tang Poetry, translations to the tanglish, is forthcoming with Math Paper Press in late 2021.