A Guide to the Extirpated Birds of Singapore

Tse Hao Guang


Gone the Dark-throated oriole, the Greater
flameback, the Banded broadbill, Dusky broadbill,

Black-and-yellow broadbill. Diard’s trogon,
goodbye, and the Moustached babbler, Crested

myna too, no beach or stone for the Beach stone-curlew,
nor flowers for the Plain flowerpecker. Unwing the Black-

winged starling, the Crimson-winged woodpecker,
or Rufous-winged philentoma, cool Fiery minivet

and Red-naped trogon. So long, Oriental bay owl,
Bronzed drongo, Garnet pitta; you shall be breath expelled

from the lips, Black-capped babbler. Here were
the woodpeckers: Buff-necked, Yellow-breasted,

Maroon, Olive- and Orange-backed, Grey-and-buff,
Great slaty, White-bellied. Forget the cry

of the Blue-eared barbet, blind the Spectacled
bulbul, bind the Spectacled spiderhunter. Little green

pigeon, there you go; miss you, Brown barbet; farewell
flash the Rufous-collared and -backed kingfishers.

In my dream, I looked up at the aching sky, glimpsed
the Black-bellied malkoha, the Grey- and Yellow-bellied

bulbuls, the Bar-bellied cuckooshrike all twisting
from hunger. See you later, Green iora, Maroon-

breasted philentoma; settle down, Purple-maned
sunbird; Large woodshrike, curl up with Scarlet minivet.

In my dream, a Green broadbill, last seen ten years
ago, becomes a man, boards a plane home.


tse-hao-guangTse Hao Guang is the author of hyperlinkage (2013) and Deeds of Light (2015, both Math Paper Press), the latter shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2016. He co-edits online journal OF ZOOS, Singapore anthology UnFree Verse (2017), and poetry.sg. He is a 2016 fellow of the International Writing Program.




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