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  • Thomas Kam


they are nothing, now.

fragments of time, name, place;

heirlooms from

that strange country:


[awarded to datuk kam u tee on the occasion of his retirement (1996]

stepping out of the airport

the wall of

wet heat and car horns, smell of

of warm sewage, dim sum,


painted purple,

( brown (after the firemen came)) of

22 fairfield avenue:

sundays yorkshire pudding rising slowly in the oven; sunflowers peeking over olive green fences this week’s beano annual (1970) red cross bookshop [7 bath road, cheltenham, glos]):

slab, body, boy

a corpse for the first time,

shiver in the cold morgue -

He drew the thin plastic curtain,

i’ll give you a moment…”.

i kissed her forehead.

i wish i knew how to say goodbye

in a language can understand?

ah kong is sat

the other side of the chessboard

from me

he tries to hide his smile

17. rxh5



topple my white king

set up the pieces again


maricel Fiona Thomas john diana:

but come ye ba-aack,

when summer’s in the meadow,

or when the valley's hushed and white with snow

'tis i'll be he - [ah ma’s voice breaks] -aaere

in sunshine or in shadow,

[the beep is slowing down]

oh danny boy, oh danny boy…


sitting alone,


in front of the fire,

playing chess with myself,

trying not to win?


i was eleven years old,

writing a sonnet for english

she said: “i’ve always loved the word lambent…


a cottage in cornwall where

she taught me to knit,

half-finished puzzles

mum whispered

“this might be the last time, so be nice!”

the tin kettle whispered

the rain knocked gently on the door,



the lambent sun sets tonight

when people go the things they leave behind

are memories, their tracks on our minds

Tom Kam Meadley, 11


written 10 years older

trying to remember

things he said,

or the way she laughed

or who i was.


a place i had forgotten -

a thing forever lost,

a mess of names and smells

we were playing “settlers of catan

the phone rang

my mum answered

came back in flustered

“they think this might be it...”

i rolled my eyes, annoyed more than anything

begrudgingly gettinf in the car

more phone calls

dark building rush past

the empty car park

a white room, a white curtain

the look on my father’s face.

i knew, then.


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