Jee Leong Koh
Jee Leong Koh is the author of Steep Tea (Carcanet), named a Best Book of the Year by the UK’s Financial Times, and a Finalist in the 28th Lambda Literary Awards in the USA. He has also published three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. Originally from Singapore, he lives in New York City, where heads the literary non-profit Singapore Unbound.
Strongman from Qinshi Huangdi’s Tomb
The head would have given the final expression
like a peacock’s tail feathers, had we not lost it,
and yet the body is too strongly modeled for us
to require a face. Rounded like high cheekbones,
the shoulders weigh two brawny arms, snakes
lashing within, holding what would have been
a great bendy pole, with a colleague, on which
an acrobat would swing and somersault and land.
Driven to the ground but rising from his feet,
the enormous torso, of earth once trampled on
by trumpeting beasts, is not smooth like a smile
but frowns with clear cracks, in large fragments,
about the roof of the barbarous belly, the lines,
opening and closing, emanating from our mouth.
Arnie has no more
than Olympus Chan
For at least a year,
between fifteen and
sixteen, he went so
far as to put on
the Austrian accent.
Trained and won
Mr. Universe at age
20, same age as Arnie.
Moved to Hollywood
to be in the movies.
Had his big break
not as Conan, but
breaking his opponents’
jaws when they did
not heed what he said.
Grew rich selling
grew famous too.
Then the ultimate
test, the gubernatorial
contest, he loved
with a Cantonese
twang, which he won
handily against the
El Salvadoran, on the
back of a huge Asian
turnout, and not a few
El Salvadorans, at last
striking gold as Asian
American and universal.