Today Bunrong runs.
Today Naree dances.
Today Rajnee sleeps.
Today Neem crawls, sandy-mouthed, under the four-cornered swing.
(We ride the air, eyeballing the breeze, laughing gashes)
Beside the rain tree with the chapped-bark smile,
Sing Chye waits, dusty toe to his left heel.
Yesterday the ball rolled his way.
Yesterday the volunteers came,
googling mud into cement,
setting a-sail the basketball posts.
Yesterday Bunrong’s uncle was six,
the GIs took him.


Out the photographed eyes of S-11 victims,
Out the printed stares of Khmer Rouge cadres, still alive,
shine barb wired panes. Today is yesterday in dusty negatives.
(We killed our parents, we eat rice)
Of yesterdays Naree has not much more to say,
though yesterday Rajnee found her brother at the village fete.
Today she sleeps, lice-cocooned on his mat.


Fair-faced Keem is sa’ah, thinks Bunrong’s brother:
yesterday, today, tomorrow.
All the boys think Keem is sa’ah,
today, yesterday, tomorrow.
Today Leane palms coconut shells as Bunrong leaps.
(We build shelves of tomorrows)
Yesterday Bunrong writes a love-letter.


Mister Leng Rady majors in Finance.
(Get better futures, say the volunteers)
Tomorrow he still lives at Kolap 4.
Sai-ha earns fifteen dollars a month.
Yesterday he wrote 15/04/09 by his bed.
(We have drilled one hundred clothes-hooks. Use these files to study hard)
A lady gives Naree a facial mask.


Tomorrow Neem will buy a handphone before shampoo.
Tomorrow Naree scares Rajnee. She is milk-masked with cut-out eyes.
I will advise and provide knowledge and expertise, writes Rady.
He gives each volunteer the same letter, shakes their hands.
Today it rains like artillery, the ground explodes, exulting
in trees and old earthy tales of newness.
The boys belly-skid naked across imitation marble.
At Tuol Seng Genocide Museum, a man claims to be a survivor.
(He tells the same story every year.)
Yesterday Bunrong smears ‘I love you’ in the mud.
(He does that for every girl.)
Naree washes and dries her mask, but a ghost has stolen it.
Tomorrow Bunrong runs after the volunteers’ bus,
grenading a love-missive through a window crack.
Tomorrow Sing Chye waits.

Ann Ang's poetry, fiction and dispatches have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, the Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore (QLRS), Ceriph, The Common, Kartika Review and elsewhere. Her short prose piece “The Indian Man’s House” was awarded second prize at the Microfiction Contest at the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2011. She is being mentored for prose under Ceriph’s mentorship programme. An avid birdwatcher, she is a proud resident of Choa Chu Kang and thinks Katong is over-rated.