Three poems by Loh Guan Liang

Undressing a Bed

My thighs are spread so wide
the undressing looks criminal,
if not comical. The elastic band
surrenders and the fabric peels
deliciously down shoulders
into hips wide enough for sleep.
I think of you as the bed moans
beneath me; I don’t think this is
although I am not sure,
not when you don’t sleep
here anymore. One hand
reaches in, probes around
for a grip, then a squeeze,
eventually a tug; another yanks
out the pillow’s cool (fore)skin
like a used rubber tossed atop
soiled sheets on the floor.
While clean bedlinen may have
a case for starting afresh,
I still prefer the honesty
of naked things.

"Untitled" (photo by Flickr user Daniel Oines)

“Untitled” (photo by Flickr user Daniel Oines)

Dressing a Bed

Covering up is often easier
than laying bare the relationship
of our bed to the ceiling and door
after lovemaking, given how
a single thread count can stretch
across all four corners of routine
and still have room for repetition
on pillows and bolsters.
A newly-made bed softens the edges
of your absence with cartoonish prints
or odd tessellations, though the fact
remains that I lie
better in the weave of fictions
taut enough to leave an outline
of my body on fabric, so loss
may fill it with sleep after I wake.

"Smoking Chair" (photo by Flickr user Sam Hames)

“Smoking Chair” (photo by Flickr user Sam Hames)


“a chair is a poem, rather than a novel.”
– Design Museum, Fifty Chairs that Changed the World

“Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
– Oliver Goldsmith

A perfect chair
is one with broken legs:
function becomes all the more
apparent, all the more precarious
in the sudden face of need.
The hollow curve
of a chair’s back completes
positions of authority and subservience;
chairs frame empty rooms
into perspective.

When perfect chairs gather
I listen to their shattered histories,
how they lost all sensation from the waist
and regained it after dropping
to the floor.
Time pushes our lives out
towards purpose,
and like perfectly broken chairs
we try to stand
with our backs proud
against the wall
even after our legs have
brought us to our knees.

loh guan liang_photoLoh Guan Liang is the author of the poetry collection Transparent Strangers (Math Paper Press, 2012). His works have appeared in various journals, including Crack the Spine (US), Kin Poetry Journal (US), Mascara Literary Review (Australia) and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. Guan Liang currently lives in Singapore. Find out more at