Having recently completed National Service in Singapore, Jerrold will be pursuing undergraduate Law at University College London in September 2012. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ceriph, Moving Words 2011: A Poetry Anthology, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Softblow, Symbal, the Singapore Memory Project and The Substation Love Letters Project. His debut book of poetry will be released in early 2012.



Walking the car after dinner, hands
unhinged in confidence or the veined
clasp of its insecurity, my parents
spot things they don’t recognise—
hair salons, shophouses, bakeries
bleached in French décor to make
them question if we’ve been living
in the area for twenty years. I trace
their eyes back to the invincibility
of provision shops, when sunsets
clot traffic to a trickle and old men
play chess in silhouettes conjured
by flats they can finally claim
a part of. I believe happiness, this
strange liability perching on tongues.
I imagine her head nestled like an
oath on his shoulder, the hollow
in their hands warming to build a
life together. One of them already
dreams of taking me to dinner, for
me to command the hollow welded
with their palms. They are helpless
in youth, carving all possibilities
out for that wisp of a heartbeat
still blinded by its own miracle.



All this hunger I will never know
is stranded in the script of words
between your father, and
your helpless, adolescent self—
the way children hide in their hands
a bounty of last snow, not realising
the warmth bodies surrender is
also decay. I imagine your neck
arched over papers, arms ready to
flee at the rehearsed moment.
The television splutters its share
of complacent dreams. Your father
swerves into you, doused in a day’s
liturgy of sweat and beer, blares
apart the radio, cursing his wife
for believing education. He hates
the determined curve of your neck,
oil whispering in a cracked lamp,
the audacity of paper choking
his table like guilt. In many ways
I thank him. He alone is responsible
for my happiness. Had he not flung
books off the ledge each night, pages
mingling with the flat’s vocabulary
of unlit rooms like echoes
in Icarian faith—you will not be here
today, your fingertips perched
on my mortarboard, correcting each
tilt like wayward names we agree
to acknowledge, then call our own.



Each morning the neighbour fastens his tie
before driving off, and from your bed
you see gates swinging in step
like that pendant of yours, now culled
from vantage and invisible
in its hollow, mahogany drawer. Light
gathers at the window’s edge, too early
for letting itself in, and the news
arrives by phone, circling like crows, always
a nuisance, news freshly perched
in twin sanctums of your ears, your
eyes trespassing on the neighbour’s yard.
The father of your children is dead, it says,
some ten minutes ago, when curtains still guard
and you have not risen. A wind
ripples through trees, maybe it is finding its way
among distractions, a voice you hear but
cannot see. By the fence, dew on eager leaves
ripening as it disappears, a trade
made necessary by those too long in love, or what
makes love vulnerable, this neck of skin, this
aching after hiding places—your pendant
unclasped, pushed away, or let
go, heard not seen.