The Study of the Wrong Things


A fiction of fraud fazes me, washed over me a dry tide. I empty my well and suddenly I learn you are not here. You never were, huh. Even now, when I am flooded in a time of drought. So, I shack up with a stranger and we pound away at the keys. You are strewn about, spread open. I am thinking about England and other common law jurisdictions. The page turns. The squire elects to receive. Where is the surprise? Square blocks into wrong holes. You knock away but are summarily dismissed. No appeal is granted. My lover leaves silence in her wake. I flip, and the world is right again.



I flip, and the world is right where you left it. Since then, I’ve come to terms with this finding of fact – that you never existed. You never did. I cope with cost mechanisms, enterprise risk, learning how to efficiently allocate library seats, schedule cigarettes. I face the tribunal with a verdict predetermined. A fossil stalks the readers, its presence prescribing silence. I say ‘hello’ to the other side of the coin, buried deep in my pockets. I fold my face into a book, dog-eared and overdue. I swore to bury you in origami and crumpled foolscap effigies. I will tear you down into papier-mâché.



I tear you down into papier-mâchée. I build you back into Hegel, Marx, some collectivist fantasy. Pages turn and go, strangers in the wake of erasure. In the corner, notes stacked and worth nothing. I seat myself in the armchair of anxiety. “Tomorrow’s election, one in high security.” The US and North Korea, missiles held at knife-point. The world on a frying pan, waiting for the flip. Lee Hsien Loong on a Segway, then unrest in Venezuela. The news, like an election, swing votes between two extremes. I stare back at my papers. A standoff between tortuous civil wrongs. My own stories, pale as a citizen, heavy like an apartment. Father chimes in about how ‘it rains every day’. I nod and tinker. My future life’s work. Transition. Now I am sitting opposite my grandfather’s tablet. I do not remember his name. My upbringing, a fiction of piety.

Valen Lim is a member of Singapore-based writing collective /Stop@BadEndRhymes (/S@BER). His poems have been published in various SingPoWriMo anthologies, as well as Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. He can be found online at

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