from “Sleuth”


In the village, all the doors regurgitate like birds to signal courtship. The colorful sick puddles as doormat. There is a wind between flowers in the village, in the village where all the villagers are constituted. I am not made a villager, like none of us are.

I take the bus here. Its motions excite the skin of reality such that from the underneath a blister forms. I toss in its fluids: I am steeped, of course, in recourse. Then the bus comes to rest. Oh, there will be dead ends & loose ends & bitter ends to come, as there always have been, & will be, for now I am here. Each villager is an egg.

When I arrive at the inn, ding the counter bell twice, whereupon the innkeeper materializes & walks me to my room. It is austere, but will do, besides I have some effects in my suitcase that might help. Inside the window clouds bunch up. I put my ear against the door, molecules shuddering like birds against its door.

Terror. What separates mousse from moose. Thin, thin line. Tenor.

I have not always been a sleuth. Before I have an apprentice, as sleuths do, I am apprenticed to another. I sit on the cusp of the ear of another, which is a crescent, before a black hole, which is the full moon.

I am not yet practiced, my teacher. My eyes keep pooling the wool over the surface of things, when I am watering the plants by the window, when I am drumming a tune on the table, or when I am just sitting in a room: cat sweater, window sweater, furniture sweater. When I speak, a little scintillating orb falls out of my mouth, rolling along a track until it collides with the stack of cards, collapsing the pyramid, whereupon the latch to the cage is released, prompting the passenger pigeon to fly out, whose wings produce curlicues of wind which knock the watering can into the potted orange tree, exciting growth & causing the tree to drop its rounded fruit, which lands on the free end of a teeterboard, catapulting the beanbag on the other end into the adjoining door, opening.

My teacher, you seat me in front of a piano, place a ball for each palm, seat me straight & say enunciate. You say ĭ-nŭn′sē-āt′. I open my mouth & you, dangling from my uvula, say inside voice, please.

The sky opens. I swim like a little flagellate, ushering stars of bacteria & detritus captivated by my tail’s hypnotic motions to the ring of protrusions at the tail’s base, thereby ingesting, thereby motoring the rotor motoring the rotor. Then I land with my four feet, it is now the age of walking.

One day I will be one day.

My teacher, I am afraid I am too practiced now.

Apprentice, I cry, cloy, clyst.

I take my practice to this ice cream shop (sweet tooth; work is sordid & requiring of sorbet) I like. Presently people begin pouring into the shop. I am looking very discreet in my trench coat, looking from a remove, this is called reading. My reading is hot like a cold slab of lasagna heating up in the microwave. I look until looking turns on me & I cannot brook it. One danger of reading: beneath my trench coat, shy voles poke through. Or, it is the loneliest thing: reading to, in that moment of recognition, languish in just that: recognition.

All night I shadow the one I am sure is the cat burglar, who has been busy emptying estates left & right, leaving nothing more than a calling card, on which is: a signature, a bait (say cheese mouse), &  finally a scent. The last of which, I am most interested: smells of citrus. I think of the burglar, the way their most showstopping acts are performed in secrecy, like a heart, & stay.

Presently, the sun is about to rise & flush the vacuous aquariums of shuttered eyelids a red dye. As  the sky pinkens, I can see I am not in fact after a burglar, but some somnambulist. As it happens, the somnambulist is deft in dream, moonlighting as an acrobat all night & leaping off structures as a  silhouette in moonlight, while I locomote, on ground level, huffing, to catch up.

Now, the sun is something of a sleuth itself. The sun who, once manifest, orates:

O what a thrill

O what th

O rill like the trill of orioles, which, it must be noted is an umbrella term for birds bearing no relation but certain mirror qualities in the Old World & New

O World—the fallout bunker, stumbled upon one wordless morning

O & speaking

O of

O I like birds

O the way the head erupts like a tooth from

O body, when I love you, I like & am terrified by your machinery, your low noise; body, you lovely labyrinthine of red, viscera, mineral

O resonance: what the dowser, diffuse amid field, attempts to discern going in with a Y twig, like arms guiding the somnambulist courtesy of

O somnambulist walking the tightrope high

O above, place of planes, birds, clouds, angels, satellites, stars, dancers, ox, lakes, noise, treachery, gods, circulation

& so forth. I am here but hesitate to call out for fear of startling the somnambulist from the place of sleep, thus plunging their body some stories down like a trapeze artist who misses their mark. But if I do nothing, the sun will get there before me, thus plunging their body some stories down like a trapeze artist who misses their mark. Therefore, I must wake the dreamer from the inside out by hacking into the realm of dream, an outing inside in wherein to out into outside’s “in.”

O I wake & throw everything into relief, or everything throws into relief, to which I ask you, honored guest of my humble diorama—am I cameo or am I

O intaglio

O here I must note my thinking on the tendency of things to imprint: forests of whorls of fingerprints thicketing an interior

O interior, the detective’s playbook

O interior, I am very tender; Donne writes in his poem published 1633: “I could eclipse & cloud [yours truly] with a wink”

O 4.6 billion years ago the violent death of a star sends shockwaves through space, causing matter to compress & gravity to collapse in a molecular cloud


O yes

O no
Wake somnambulist wake. Before it is late. & you dredge me into this place of endless flight where we look at one another as if having just woken up.

O once the moon crossed over my face, face

O crossed out by the moon

O body cross it out

O & in that

O of I

O 01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 00101100 00100000 01010111 01101111 01110010 01101100 01100100

O must thinking arrive, must it flatten

O against a brick-red wall

O must it plop like an egg omeletting against a hot pavement, must it fatten

O against stucco rococo, balconet with acanthus openings, rose-red wall, belfry (as if a cloche), garden hedge

O tendrils

O must thinking flatten

I am inside the topiary costume. I employ the method of acting named method acting so as to sketch an impression called natural. There, I am a plant here.

Still, there is a weather inside: leaves edge the nose, bringing to brink expulsion of the nose’s liquified entrails, oh, oh, to sneeze! Then it occurs to me I cannot use my notebook because the costume is made to fit & not like a house wherein it is possible to flower, to puppy, to cloud, without distorting the external shell. Writing would be so revealing.

Because I cannot write, I begin work in my head: notate this & that, I bid the scribe-me, a perfect copy, scrawling furiously away in his cubicle within the mind’s vast offices. In essence, I play the scribe’s anti-scribe, whose work is not to copy, but contrive the copy. All the while, the garden is maintained.

Then comes along Occam with his hacksaw, razoring on & razoring off subsidiary jade & branches from the topiary’s unshapely growth. I can take a hint. So there is a great twittering about or the leafing of pages: the mind is booked. Etched onto the mind-book: writing.   

When I flip to a page, this is what is written: “All stories accordion.”

Andy Sia is a poet from Brunei, currently residing in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find him at andysia.com.