Alibi V.13 No.12 • March 18-24, 2004 

alt.press

Singapore's Christina Sng writes dark verse. While I have seen her work in such distributed titles as Space and Time, among those sci-fi, fantasy and horror periodicals not carried in stores, such as Wicked Hollow and Hadrosaur Tales, it seems difficult to pick one up without coming across her name.

Lately she has been involved with Allegra Press in Singapore, with her own magazine, Macabre, in addition to the femme fatale anthology Wicked Little Girls. The Darkside of Eden is a collection of this prolific scribe's work, and includes 18 poems, all but "Succubus" previously published. Devoid of interior illustration, it is, like all the Allegra titles, sturdily put together and easy-to-read, with all Ps and Qs in place.

The opening piece, "They Do Not Sleep," first appeared in the small press mag Flesh and Blood in 2002. Do you remember, as a kid, dreading waking up and having to go down a long, dark hallway by yourself to use the bathroom? I was a midnight sprinter myself, and "Sleep" concerns the spooks who insinuate themselves into our subconscious as we dream, peer around from partially open doors when we're not looking, and so on. Clever and spooky, the coolest grandmother might keep this one up her sleeve for Halloween or a summer night sleepover.

"Inside," which appeared in Black Petals in 2002, seems to document Sng's fascination with the inner workings of a fellow dark soul, ending with: "With time / I will unravel your puzzle, / Unlock the source / Of your dark inclinations, / Tip the scales / Of your volatile mind, / Turn it counterclockwise / And watch you unwind."

"Shroud," which first appeared in something called Frisson: Disconcerting Verse, also in 2002, seems to be a visceral meditation on vampirism, followed with "Fed to Her," (Southern Gothic, 2001) in a similar vein but more from the standpoint of lending new metaphorical meaning to the concept of wounded betrayal in the romantic arena.

"Cocoon" is an enigmatic piece, which first saw print in The Edge, Tales of Suspense in 2001, climaxing nicely with "... Yet you left me drifting / In the sand dunes, / Parched and dried, my skin / Unfolding in the lacerating wind. / When the dusk finally falls, / I rustle softly as I pass you, / Standing proud in the dust."

"Succubus" is a three-part poem, which occupies four pages and is composed in three-line stanzas reminiscent of the renga tradition, in which several poets would contribute verses for a 100-stanza poem. Kicking off with "You have risen in several forms. / A speck in someone's eye, / a painful, annoying zit," "Succubus" takes off from there in a rather free-wheeling expression of dark thoughts.

Christina Sng's poetry, by turns morose, beautiful, and mysterious, is always as dark as Jagermeister or a cup of joe not compromised by sugar or cream. This is a signed limited edition with a press run of 200 of which Sng was good enough to honor me with the 101st copy, so Eden may no longer be available. If they've already sold out of this one, keep tabs on when the next such collector's item is due for release from Allegra Press.