INSTINCTS #20: ‘No Man is an Island’ by Ismim Putera

Time for more poetry!

This is the second piece by Malaysian poet, Ismim Putera. Read his previous poem, ‘Si Tenggang the Sailor’ and other excellent Asian speculative poems on the INSTINCTS Poetry page.

No Man Is An Island

Ismim Putera


I am an island
I float using the air in my balloon-like belly
legs and arms straighten sideways
like a starfish drying under the sun
wavelets brush my hair like sea kelp
my chest is sandy
September monsoon wind uproots some of the
coconut trees along the ribs
exposing many sea caves
multi-coloured molluscs decorate my toes with
their everlasting prismatic pearls
my nose is the highest peak of the island
my eyes are two collection of fresh water;
I like how Asian men spend their summer
on my body:
brewing coconut milk
building imaginary sandcastles
swimming in my ears
surfing on my receding hairline;
I have sunk many times in South China Sea
and buoyed myself up the next day
the cycle continues
because I carry seeds of Mother Nature;
I can see many men are still enjoying themselves
on my body:
climbing my slimy knees
climbing along my salted thighs
carving their faces on my limestone calves
no man indeed is an island—
and I am no man.


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.


May be an image of one or more people

Ismim will also have work featured in the upcoming LYRIC anthology by Paper Djinn Press. (Due for release Mar 31st). You will likely spot various other Insignia contributors in there too 🙂


Want to submit to INSTINCTS? Submissions are always open! Details here.


(Featured image by Joey Kyber on Unsplash)

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