Cathexis Northwest Press
By: Alicia Ong
By conscription of my birth, science is a permanent trope.
A Sino-Atrial node in overdrive has no time for corporeal cries
The lifeline of convoluted nuclear-neuron masses
Shrouded in animal, born naked as God’s private joke.
Cardinal instincts murmur
Heart valve disease – detected in time.
When the muscular organ the size of a closed fist must falter,
The stethoscope of cerebral profundity will find a cure.
3.5 billion beats – identical, mind numbing, outrageous!
There must be room to tempt, twist, tease
The primal depths of a thoracic cavity running its course.
This disease is common.
Savage and sensual: survey with a suitable cocktail
(Relax. Thorax bones will guard it sovereign.)
Why live gentle when there is the profane?
Biology seeks the limits of nature.
I have a right to be smitten with something,
Descartes gives me nothing that rages and wrecks.
So be my sentient plaything,
You know cards and chess. Break the rules.
Hide the coins. Run rings around me, yes, push play,
Fall off the edge when either of us blinks, easy,
I have no need for crash and burn.
Give me a sleazy ripple in our sea of malaise, won’t you?
I offer callous intent and careless fun.
If the opposite of indifference is love then it is love I want.
It’s not a stretch, you know,
Nietzsche said God was only vanity and fear.
Your spasmodic pulse, curious lithium-flame cheeks
Betray a heart quixotic, poisoned in spite of itself.
But a first-rib fracture heals in weeks
And stopping blood loss is plain, cold math.
There’s no need to tread lightly, not with me, darling.
There are no pain receptors in the brain.
Alicia Ong is a new writer born in Singapore and based in London, with a short story in the latest edition of The Manchester Review.
"Puppy Love was first written when I was eighteen, and as eighteen-year-olds often are, extremely angry. I took tremendous (if addictive and deeply unsustainable) solace in what I considered serious intellectual discourse in the attempt to stave off preoccupations about things that I considered far more banal. I was also interested in the nature of intellectual love portrayed in various corners of popular culture. The poem represents the various pretentions – of language, of theory – that come with the territory – the bravado, the arrogance, and ultimately their transparent futility. The form of the poem came completely intuitively, and as with most of my writing, I thought of the last line right at the start."