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 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.