iassw logoSocial Dialogue #17
Joshua Ip

i am building a wall

i am building a wall

when they ask me what i'm doing
at the end of this long campaign
when they ask which causes I'm pursuing these words are my refrain
i will say:

i am building a wall

i am building a wall with the press of my palms
i am building a wall i am asking for alms
from mexico; brexit, yo
nigel farage you are farang i will build you a garage and it will only have three walls
it will drive you up one of them --

i am building the fourth wall, just you wait for it
i will make bertolt brecht pay for it
nobody can break it they'll all come to grief
this past month has been the longest suspension of disbelief --

i am building a wall out of loonies and hicks
i will bury dead immigrants under the bricks
i will separate lovers and split families
there are the best practices from chinese
they will see from the moon the results of my reign i will make America a great wall again --

i am building a wallflower a witling seasonal succulent
climbing weed one indiscretion one microaggression at a time
i am willing her into her place i am building her live she's five - no, a six - really, six? no, a five.
i am building a wallflower may flower
may i? no need for consent
we can judge by intent

i am building a wal-do a wally where is he
where are the red and white stripes of his hat
where is his equally red and white striped girlfriend where is he beneath the white stars in the blue night
i cannot find him among the immigrants
who are playing sudoku and have put wally out of a job

i am building a wal-mart
with the tall parts and the small farts
i am building a wal-mart in north korea and the chinese are going to pay for it
i am building a wall street journal
my name is elite and eternal in the halls of the washington mall
i am building a walrus
And i am a carpenter
suddenly all of us
pursued by dementors
they're foreigners, toll 'em!
expect patronum!
in the wispy dull night
my patronus is white.

i am building a wall
i am willing a bald spot out of existence there is no resistance
i am billing you for that call
i am welding you to the toilet stall

i am building my way back to a world before orange is the new black
i am whitewashing your yellowface
i am waltzing with her majesty her grace i am building a walt disney world version of wall-e, the secret walter
mitty my male fantasy, i am bill clintoning a lewinsky, I am beaming my stupidity into your feed whether you need it or not

i'm building a walk to the park
i'm building an ark for the two by two families
i'm building a trigger Obama you notable figure
i'm building a trigger warning, an awning we can shelter under
i am building the warp and the woof
i am building the truth
which is bigger than the voice of america's youth

something there is that doesn't love a wall
well fuck you robert frost I'm building it
you lost i'm killing it
so you can be that little dutch boy who sticks his finger in the hole in the wall
which is a dam or a dyke
we don't give either of those america chose!

or you can build a wall full of words full of herds
a wall full of sheep a wall full of sheep i will count them and recount them for i have promises to keep
and a conservative veep
i'm gonna make a great leap
forward before twitter beeps
i lurve the steep learning curve
and miles to sow before I reap

two roads diverged in a yellow wood i'm going to cut down the wood
i'm gonna spray paint it white
and i'm gonna use it to build a wall over both roads
and that's gonna make all the difference


perils of pop book cover

Joshua Ip is the founder of Sing Lit Station (SLS), a literary charity that brings readers and writers closer together. SLS organises the 5,000 strong Singapore Poetry Writing Month (SingPoWriMo) writing group on facebook, runs multiple workshop groups for young writers and the migrant worker community in Singapore, and puts together an annual Manuscript Bootcamp for poetry and prose. SLS does its best to inject the beauty of literature into urban life, through programmes like Singapore Poetry On The Sidewalks - invisible poetry stenciled in waterproof ink that only appears in the rain; and poetry flash mobs on subways and buses. You can find out more at singlitstation.com

(permission from author to reproduce his poem, also in Griffith review 57, pp.23-26)