Cyperus papyrus

It’s no wonder
how they were made for storytelling
when paper came from their veins,
and us placing ‘scroll’ in their name,
and not thinking about the ink.
It’s a wonder
why Singapore cultivates them
these invasive, exotic, herbs
a long way from their Nile,
their deserts and their kings.
Perhaps it is
to follow in the footsteps
of those with great temples and tombs
and write our history on ancient canvas,
only hoping to be remembered.
My only wish
for this story’s retelling
is that we did not need to
import the ink.
Note: This piece was inspired by Cyperus papyrus, which is a native plant species to several countries in Africa. The Ancient Egyptians used this plant to make papyrus or paper. According to ‘A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore’ compiled by Kwek Yan Chong and colleagues in 2009, this plant is cultivated in Singapore, probably for water management and aesthetic purposes. It has known to be invasive in other parts of the world.

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Cyperus papyrus by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Prayer

“I’m praying for this country. This place, even if it hates me.”
– A Sudden Madness, Dave Chua

Place your palms together
and whisper the words
everybody else demands with.
Go to a place
you consider holy,
bow your head, get on your knees.
There are reasons why
temples, mosques and churches
are on every street. Maybe,
this is one of them:
to keep the country
in a constant state of prayer.
It may be the only way
to silence our busy minds
and steady our hearts.
It is the only way
to keep a nation united,
always hoping for a better future,
always looking up for answers.

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Prayer by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Vanda Miss Joaquim

Singapore’s national flower
is reflective of the country;
small and quaint,
an understated beauty,
something that was stumbled upon,
found by chance or accident
with potential indirectly
proportionate to its size.

This was the power of
Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’,
forming the basis
of our first fairy-tale.

It’s fiction based in fact now,
or is it fact stretched
to fill the space of fiction?

You know something went wrong somewhere
when official records need to be changed,
whether there was a slip in the penmanship
or a storyteller etching in his piece of history,
forming this real life metaphor
to be one of the many symbols for
Singapore.

Strange how with red ink
crossing over government records,
it still remains a metaphor
for Singapore;

How this cross-breed
was built instead of born;
how now trees
are built, not grown;
how beauty
is made, not found;
how coincidence
never really is.

They say nation-building
is based in history, beliefs and myths.
So, even a nation is built, not grown
on the stories we choose to believe.

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Vanda Miss Joaquim by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Geometric Mean

They always said,
to think outside the box
and so we’ve learnt
to contort ourselves into new shapes.

At some point,
I suppose it became a competition
to see who could bend over backwards
and walk while holding their nose;

dislocating shoulders
and detaching jaws
just to not fit into
the chalk mark on the floor.

What they didn’t tell me
is that they can take that shape
and twist it back into the box
they were telling me
to think outside of.

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Geometric Mean by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

In between the lines

lines

If you look carefully,
you will find the hidden words.

They were written
with the pencil roots of the mangroves.

Piece them together
to find the literary trails between broadwalks.

Each time you go,
you might find the same words.

And yet each time you go,
you always find a different story.
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In between the Lines by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.