A journal of art + literature engaging with nature, culture, the environment & ecology


Zakir Hossain Khokan, Bangladesh

Like you, at times

when grief pours down on me,

nothing can ease the pain

but nature,

an enchanting touch of magic.


While you enjoy the sunshine

and sea waves at the beach,

angle for fish at green riverbanks

and enjoy the gardens,

sweet shelter of trees,

I immerse myself in the noise

of gigantic machines.


For me nature is

soil soaked in

the sweat of craftsmanship,

streaming down every moment

through every inch of my skin.


And in the tea breaks

shorter than a glimpse,

I sail through the pages of poetry

in search of peace.

Still at times, when grief

pours down on my fatigue-torn body,

on roads and in the MRTs

I behold the faces of infants,

free and pure as nature would be.

Zakir Hossain Khokan is a writer, poet, freelance journalist, editor and photographer. Born in Dhaka and a graduate of the National University of Bangladesh, he moved to Singapore in 2003 to work here. Presently he is a quality control project coordinator in the construction sector. His two poetry collections, a non-fiction book and a song album have been published in Bangladesh and Singapore. He is co-editor of Migrant Tales, an anthology of poems by migrant Bengali poets in Singapore. Recently, he served as co-editor of Call and Response: A Migrant/Local Anthology. Zakir won the first prize for two consecutive years at the Migrant Workers Poetry Competition in 2014 and 2015. Since then, he has been a prominent figure representing the migrant worker community in Singapore. He was invited to give Ted Talks where he gave his audience a glimpse of the migrant worker’s life through the lens of his poetry, photography, books, and other literary activities. He tries to use the little fame that he has to give back to the community, whether by advocating for worker rights or by starting initiatives within the migrant community, such as through Migrant Writers of Singapore. His One Bag One Book project encourages migrant workers to read more books. He can be reached at zakir.journal@gmail.com.

Two poems by Ellen Chia

He who created the original paradise, promised to restore what was lost

He who created the original paradise, promised to restore what was lost