INSTINCTS #18: ‘Si Tenggang the Sailor’ by Ismim Putera

It’s my pleasure to introduce the work of first-time Insignia Stories contributor, Ismim Putera.

Please enjoy his poem, ‘Si Tenggang the Sailor’, inspired by a Southeast Asian folktale.

Si Tenggang the Sailor

Ismim Putera

Si Tenggang yearns for the sea
water washes his thighs
salt encrusts on his face
sands in his eyes
he is a weeping statue
fossilised from head
to toe.

aromatic trails of the Nusantara Sea
a Javanese djong with with crates of cloves,
cinnamons, manjakani galls
caskets of silks, jade and pearls
gifts from the Han Emperor
gold, dust and diamonds
and tales of Sinbad from
the Arabian Nights.

tiny wrinkles on his mother’s face
were wounds in her heart
she shipwrecked him
into the swirl of fate
and drowned into abyss
of loneliness.

there, on the Air Manis beach
a motherly witch forgives him
kisses his brow
caresses his cheek
the curse melts under the moon
the stone softens into sands
water erodes his thighs
salt sweetens his face
sands on his feet.


Ismim Putera (he/him) is the author of the poetry zine “Tide of Time” (Mug and Paper Publishing, 2021). Some of his works can be found in many online journals.

Twitter: @ismimputera

Ismim’s poetry zine “Tide of Time” can be found on Mug and Paper Publishing’s Facebook page.

The zine is also available in Shoppee.


Ismim will have a second poem published with us in March. In the mean time, we’ll be running a small blog series from February 16th to 28th, in honor of Women in Horror Month. Click on the link to check out the calendar of events, and please subscribe via email so you don’t miss a post!


It read more published poems, visit the INSTINCTS: Poetry page.

INSTINCTS is always open to submissions. Check out the requirements on our Submissions (Poetry) page.


Featured Image by Samantha Kennedy on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Start a Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: