que es esto queso2,
yellow qwerty wrestle
mania, grind it, mortar and
nettle, barbed rainbow
barbie queer, angular
tri, un-bi assed
faster than mullet train3, accessible to Tokyo
took you a boxer, battle a hypnotic tosser,
Imaginary home, friends Jodie
monster curled,
awkwardly terrifying, terryfolds4
antiquely terror manigolds
untold aunties, Farquaad5
lardless, heartless
gutless, mutt’n
slut on, suit off
suite here, site there
might have fought where
bright brave roughed,
what hat hath brought fright
freight through boroughs?

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx(oh wait, we can’t take trains)


1been from a dump, moldering
bouldering, unfoldering
2what is this cheese, camer
a shutter, butter
flies away, winged scale is
too heavy to suckle
3buckle up, a safe gun
there’s a snake in my chamber
of Ryan – the New Year kind
when the ball drop, stop and roll
4Rick (read back), a green
portal is venomless, vehement
Grapflorpian, too much liquor,
time to drain the
5gingerbread man!


Written by Garreth Chan.
Artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Self Portrait as a Heel”.

an evening meal with langston hughes, william carlos williams, christopher columbus & lady liberty

i fell into birth
licked down like
sand tongue, salivating
water toeing
against continent; i got me
a country this way

middle of the map;
supposed to be

my dream is painted
on the pavement smeared
with dog-shit; metropolis
sunlight striping my coat
and my face, turned up
to catch like a baseball
glove, cratered with the
blow of dream

i don’t want to depend, least
of all, on your red

have you ever seen the veins
of a carrot? fine
sanded like arms
of tired woman, come down
for dinner, my mother

i didn’t do it well
the crowning, so they cut me
out, islanded me;
i’ve been taking my time to ferry
towards lady liberty
and her sharp, sharp


blue flame turned light blue
turned orange under half-sphere metal
waiting to turn milky texture
into crispy shells
that my grandmother’s toothless gums
cannot could not chew
despite how much she wanted to

ladle spooning texture onto hot
metal, circling it around the sides
in an upstairs, dimly lit
second floor, plastic metal
chairs and tables, corner
behind the glass panel
in an Abu Dhabi street I cannot remember
in a foreign city turned home

rice flour, coconut milk, yeast
mixed and left to rise
for my one staple served between
semesters when my feet
landed on the ground I was born in

aerated bubbles popping on black
surface pan creating corridors
weaving through streets leading
from Madinat Zayed next to
luminous pink venus salon
in the night because
they only serve appa for dinner

sliced onions fried with miris and sugar
spotted with chili seeds
creating fire within my tummy
the spicy seeni sambol wrapped in
soft crunchy appa remind
my taste buds that they are alive

white tender squishy center
radiating into light crisp brownness
served on 1st avenue snuggled
thinly between fire escapes and
basement shops selling
South Asian spices

sunny side ups
sitting center in bithara appa
waiting for crunchy shells to
slit through the orange yolk
oozing over, coating
memories of introducing
Sri Lankan food to the
habibis and habibtis
on warm humid days
where the spices hit
their tongues into foreignness
later where the spices hit
their tongues into homeness

Artwork by Tjalf Sparnaay