Toh Hsien Min is the founding editor of a lively literary quarterly in Singapore, www. qlrs.com , and the author of Iambus (1994) and The Enclosure of Love (2001). “Oil” appears courtesy of papertigermedia.com, and thanks to IWP alumnus Alvin Pang.

I'm standing at the pumps, gunning Premium 98
into my tank and looking at the convenience store
bright as a robbery target, when it occurs to me
we pass a million dead bodies through our engines
every day: plankton, coecacanth and other bottom-dwellers,
pterodactyl. Which gives me food for thought:
when we set off our own catastrophe,
exchanging nuclear bombs like Christmas cards
or setting smallpox loose upon the world again,
will the next civilizations use us for fuel?
It's berrer than going to waste in a cemetery,
though why we haven't installed generators
in our crematoria is beyond me, possibly
beyond even a politician's oily tongue.
I would want to burn in a poet's car,
when he's starting it up in his garage, where the
recursive whiff of combusted fuel will throng
his nostrils, oiling his mind to think:
that could be me. He'd shift to first gear,
press down the accelerator, slide out of his driveway
into an avenue where the trees are throwing feuilles mortes
to the wind, so they might float, like uncontained ashes, into
a dreamless out of sight.