The Merlion Poem

You came out of the sea,
skin dappled scales of sunlight;
riding crests, surfing waves,
thrashing through the waters
Development and Progress
you arched your back
as you rose out of the water,

Droplets of saltwater
cascading off your shining
muscular torso, you shook
your magnificent head

from side to side
like a dog after a bath
but in slow motion
because you are

too dignified
to do it otherwise.

Oh Merlion,
Now you perch, resplendent, on a curved tail.
Head held so high
Presiding over the river that brought you to this land.
Before you crawled out of it with such dignity

And realised you couldn’t breathe outside of water.
Gills snapped shut, you lost your life
at mouth the Singapore River

And people covered you in concrete
The way we cover everything in concrete in this country
And made you a monument
To inter-species relationships.

This lion of the sea
Salt-maned, scaly, wondrous of tail
Touched with power, insistent

On this brief promontory…

O Merlion, how you sacrificed yourself for us.
Throwing yourself at the feet
Of our great nation.
Preserved for eternity.

Oh Merlion I’ve never felt like this
About any animal before.
But you are so much more than animal.

Oh Merlion sometimes
you make me want to touch your scales

with my fingers, and tell you, its ok.
Everyone loves you now.

Oh Merlion, sometimes
you make me want to do a call and response.

To have been a creature of the sea;
look at how you try to purge yourself
of your aquatic ancestry, in this ceaseless
torrent of denial, draining the body
of rivers of histories, lymphatic memories.

Oh Merlion, sometimes I wish you had paws.
Then you could hug people!
Then you could hold me as I have always dreamed
of holding you in my miniscule arms that cannot even
encircle your whole upper body. If you had paws
you would probably hold

A kris
(I’m not entirely sure what a kris is
But it sounds relevant to this poem.
Actually it sounds a bit dangerous
But that’s ok Merlion I like danger.)

You can hold it to my throat
While I stroke your glorious mane.
And lick your soft ear and tell you nervously
its ok Merlion.
You are big and strong and beautiful
Everyone loves you.

Then I will unzip my pants.
And unsheath my own kris
And plunge it into you
While you cry out in
a unique and exotic roar

that sounds somewhere between
a lion’s mating call
and a dolphin’s click.

I want to make love to you Merlion.
The way your Lion Father made love to your Fish Mother.
I want to ride you merlion
The way no one has ridden you before
Or ever.

I will ride you wildly.
Through the oceans of progress.

I want to fuck you Merlion.
The way Simba would fuck Flipper.
The way Mufasa would fuck Nemo

The way Free Willy would fuck Simba’s mother whose name I can’t remember.

But I will not Merlion.
Because it would  be very painful for me.
Because you are covered in concrete.

Like everything else in this country.

*lines borrowed from:
– ‘Lionheart’ Amanda Chong (2005)
– ‘The Merlion’ Alfian Bin Sa’at (1998)
–  ‘Ulysses By The Merlion’ Edwin Thumboo (1979)


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