The Works of Arlene Ang

Arlene Ang serves as a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine and Press 1. A poetry collection, Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon, co-written with Valerie Fox, was published by Texture Press in 2008. She received the 2006 Frogmore Poetry Prize and the 2008 Juked Poetry Prize. She lives in Spinea, Italy. More of her writing may be viewed at

All Poems © Arlene Ang


The first one I found, I killed---
a light pressure of the thumb on that part
of the pillow where he would lay
his head. In his absence,
I kept to my side of bed and ate
my meals there. I watched
the television as it changed the color of my legs:
mauve, brown, yellow, midnight snow.
More ants found their way
to my hand, like an aftermath of sorts,
and died attempting to take away
the dead. It was summer;
the Gulf War stayed between us like a molar
the tooth fairy never came for.
I easily fell into the habit
of sleeping with the lights on.
This morning I woke to the sun
on his pillow---the absence of ants
lead my attention to its pristine state
as if nothing ever existed for it.

How Did Her Garden Grow

It was sick rabbit. It was deathday
on a stone path. The long grass howled
with insects as if they were
corpses beating their hands against
the tough soil, wanting
to be let out. Ripe mangoes were
pricked open by birds, the flesh
thick with bluebottles.
In the midst of it, a wart-backed toad
crept out---a god of sorts---
for that Sunday walk just before
the rev of dawn.

Phantom Limb

A dead fly lay
on the side of the bed where
my husband flopped
his arm as it I weren't there---
only the arm
which he had already lost
during the war. He slept
mostly naked, like pain,
and the sheets
twisted around him
at night until his skin was scuffed
with red marks.
He never remembered
his dreams,
or that he crushed
insects with his live arm
all the while
they were phantom itch.
When morning came,
he held my hand
so tightly that
I grew afraid of the sound
our bones
would make
when we crumble.