And Lose the Name of Action

Ruth Tang‘s submission this month navigates the meta-narratives of Hamlet – exploring the layered spaces between the play-within-a-play, the concept of performance is considered against decaying dimensions of theatre. In questioning ‘what is death / but a costume-change?’ we are also asked – what is a terminus but a beginning? For it is the death of a King that sets into motion madness and murder, and it is the hesitation of a Prince from which springs the clashing ‘poison-tipped foils’ of vengeance.

And Lose the Name of Action

The dead speak with tongues and ghosts that

climb castle walls, stalk the night’s watch: kings and

the afterlife don’t quite mix. There are spies in the pudding; there is

blood in the wedding-cake. Watch the curtains rise

but hold this new spirit inside you; fold away the script and

stage but not the body you made to glide upon it, a pond-skater

creating the water beneath its legs. What is death

but a costume-change? A riddle. A pantomime. A trap

within a trap within a trap. God is laughing in

the wings. The goldleaf on the turret

walls is peeling, Uncle. I am not

sorry for the blood on the tapestry or the

maggots in the wallpaper. I shall eat your poison-

tipped foils whole.


A mirthless drudge reading Law and English Literature at university, RUTH TANG writes poetry to stave off her (probably inevitable) slide into corporate evil. Her poetry has appeared in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. Her other preoccupations include metafiction, non-musical theatre, and an awful sense of foreboding about the future.

Photo credit: Chloe Lim

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