Felix Cheong was the recipient of the National Arts Council’s Young Artist of the Year for Literature Award in 2000. He has published three books of poetry, Temptation and Other Poems (1998), I Watch the Stars Go Out (1999) and Broken by the Rain (2003), which was short-listed for the 2004 Singapore Literature Prize. Sudden in Youth: New and Selected Poems will be published in 2009. Felix edited Idea to Ideal: 12 Singapore Poets on the Writing of Their Poetry (2004).  A Bachelor of Arts (honours) graduate from the National University of Singapore, Felix completed his Master of Philosophy in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland in 2002. He is currently a freelance writer and an adjunct lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Temasek Polytechnic.


In Praise of Sloth


Not writing is a pain

five years in the making,

a knot you choose not

to untie, pact of convenience

with time, vow of silence,

itch at your back, the back

of your voice you can’t reach,

neither pen nor stick.


But how it grows, terrible

territory; you flog dead

lines, sub-verse, start

false and stutter, follow

the lead as it sinks, suspect

animation, play dumb, downplay,

punctuate yourself with commas,

poems in coma, this lull, dull period

when you have nothing to say,

nothing to say it with.


For not writing is a virtue, let

sleeping words lie,

an implosion of sloth

before you find the gift.




Before Reality Shows

It will be, will it to be,

faith that a wall

is your window to morning,

glory, gilt-mounted, coughing out

the sun, sheen and shine

as if no closure, never

foreclosure. Imagine, yes, hold

it together with words or gods,

that into the distance,

doors lead you on,

corridors steep as the steps

you can carry on your feet,

before dead-ends chase you down,

nail your head to your heart,

seal them blinding shut.


There are no alternatives. Nothing

else will alter what is native

inside you: A box

where not even silence escapes. 




Night Calls


Soon, your day will

pass, no matter how fast,

vast, furious, light will run

itself out, like a boy

given legs for a field

or a man, women for a song.


It’ll always be too soon,

like that last kiss,

the lasting kiss, a kiss at last,

at the mercy of needing

too much, saying too little.


When dark matters, rises, steadies

itself for the kill,

you’ll not be this weak again

but complete, completed,

taken out of circulation

and buried among stars,

want for nothing.