[the poetry billboard] - 'Io Non Capisco' by Wena Poon
Io Non Capisco

Wena Poon

“We don’t have to speak English with British, American, or Australian accents ... But we should speak a form of English that is understood by the British, Americans, Australians, and people around the world.”

Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
National Day Rally Speech 1999

Hotels in Hong Kong:

“Good morning Mister Poo
Hash cream pretty crayfish travel?”
At every in-room valet call
“Good morning Missus Prune
Mister Wendy? Mister Walla?
May I speak to Miss Ah Poo Villa?”

Hotels in Singapore:

“Good afternoon Mister Wena
Curly lemon branded free?”
I call the laundry service.
“Hello Missus Weenee Pee
Carry ruckus hurly bee? Suddenly lost lake.
We will cruel kangaroo under perilous.”

My maiden name, being eight letters in length
Was too tricky; my married name worse.
“Mister Carrie? Missus Barry?
Mister Christmas Carol?
Mister Cream? Missus Crap?
Mister Delhi Belly.”

The waitress tucked a napkin on my lap.
“Can I offer you a cistercian necklace?
A wally mexican? Can I bring you a ringing daisy?
A frantic mollusc? Whatta boutta cream of France?”
“Softly melon bug and a golliwog,” I murmured back.
She hesitated. And brought me a decaf.