Two Poems by Godwin Tan

Encounter with Skyscrapers

Before long, I found myself staring
at the skyscrapers I visit, wondering
if their roofs were erected with bamboos,
if their ceilings were made of glass.

Outside, their glossy bodies
battle my shadow, their windowpanes
distort my features, as though
they were puzzled by my presence
or perturbed by my stay.

Inside, I would imagine myself, giant-like,
squatting along their stairways,
dismantling their structures – frame
to shell, shell to membrane –
entangling my face in the meshes
of their grids and cables,
spitting wires
into their boardrooms.

Standing on stilts, I would blow into
their woody sills and their shiny lifts
and watch reams of papers take flight,
like a sword dance infusing spirit
into the homogenous stillness
of their walls.

Finally, I would lift the crowns
of these towers, and see little inhabitants
gathered for dinner – now interrupted.
There, I would watch
bodies freeze, eyes widen,
an angle-sliced rib-eye quake on a fork.

Room 1218: Resurrection 

Again, I woke up to the sunset,
that familiar crimson deadbeat
lies aimlessly as if in mimicry;
my head buried in a stubborn
fortress of pillows and blankets,
shielded from the cacophony
of an English winter. Outside,
neighbours quarrel in accents
I cannot yet comprehend, but
frustration is universal. Perhaps,
they meant to say it is a luxury
to fight. That I let myself concede.
In my room, there is no fight:
the heater is a silent slab of white
icy marble, an old creaky chair
burdened by towels and sheets
groans on my behalf. That day,
the postman delivered a letter
scribbled with strokes that slide
and dance in my mother’s voice;
I kept it unopened on a top shelf,
saving warmth for a rainier day.
On the third day, feverish buzzes
from my phone will split the sky
and bring everything back to life.


Godwin Tan read Law at the University of Cambridge and University College London. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Eye Flash Poetry Journal, Eunoia Review, The Cambridge Pamphlet, Kitaab, The Asian Writer, and elsewhere.

10 thoughts on “Two Poems by Godwin Tan

  1. I really like these, especially the first one.
    The line “a sword dance infusing spirit
    into the homogenous stillness
    of their walls” is one that I would like to have written.

    Liked by 2 people

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