ERR:DIVIDEBY0 | Viency Lee

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I don’t remember at what point

I started treating poetry a little like Math.


The thing is, I was never particularly good at either.

(Does that mean something?)


I burn hours away to

calculate the circumference of each word

fo fit this


problem of a poem;

Maybe that way I’ll always arrive

at the right – right – right answer.


I try to measure the perfect line—

Tracing parallels upon

my metaphorical ruler;

Eliminating the excess;

Sculpting my stanzas into equations

just so I can solve for the perfect words


x equals need

y equals beauty

z equals feeling




Have you got the answer yet?

I haven’t.

Man, this question – sorry – poem(?)

is proving a little tougher than I thought.



Let’s try again. Okay:


Find the angle between

that perfect

line break

and your need

to feel like you’ve been changed

by the way I bracket words together

sieved out of my



disintegrating library.


Do I solve for the proof between your


and my need to satisfy?


Ah crap.

Where’s the formula to subtract fear

and insecurity away when I need it?

Remind me again—

how do I multiply pleasure

by public approval

in order to maximise self-esteem?


It seems that I’ve forgotten.

Viency Lee is a book editor at an independent Singaporean publishing house. Her work tends to engage with the fantastical. She also hosts a podcast about Singaporean comics sometimes.

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