Creative

Here you will find some poems that I have written. Please click on the relevant link to jump to the poem you wish to read.

1. Lessons At The Playground, 2008.

2. Dial-A-Sundial, 2009.

3. Trifling Tai-Tai, 2007.

4. Dear Bari, 2010.

5. Dear Bari 2, 2011.

6. This Night is Not Solely Ours to Savour, 2012

Lessons At The Playground

We learned to lie,
playing hide and seek.
Escape from reality,
Nooks and crannies make temporal abodes
Mask our fears by pretending
Not to breathe

Building sandcastles,
We learn they ultimately crumble,
And so
Destroy them ourselves

We learnt to be assertive,
Playing catch
‘I touched you, so there.’
‘Chope. I said chope.’

We learned to cheat,
Counting to 10,
Through semi-closed eyes,
Start off at 9.

We learned to dare,
To challenge, seek thrill,
Burn plastic, leap off heights,
Danger excites

We learned to fall,
To bruise, to heal
Taste salt-stained sand—
Pure cathartic, unadulterated grief

We hold hands; make new friends
We are simple, curious folk
Little mastery of deception,
We try our hand.

This colourful maze
of a still-rusting phase
In our sandbox, in our world
We carve our space,
dictate our pace.
Down the slides, past the bridge,
We learn our ways.

Comments: This poem was written on an afternoon, at home.

Dial-A-Sundial

You wanted to be a sundial
Stood for hours in the scorching sun
While kids laughed and pointed and jeered
So I stood with you, behind you,
Diagonally across from you
While cool shadows formed just a metre away

So we stood. You stubborn; me afraid.
Two human pillars in a barren desert,
Both not knowing what we stood for.

Until darkness fell and
Tides of moonlight washed over us
That you awoke from your conscious slumber
And drifted into the next.

Comments: The imagery of this poem came directly from a dream, in which, at one point, Michael Jackson appeared as well. I am not a particular fan of the superstar.

Trifling Tai-Tai

You take the MRT
though your husband drives a Merc.
Lowering yourself to your ‘less-rich’ friend
whom you go with for High-Tea

With your perms and your rouge
and your Martha Stewart dress.
Mixing your ‘angmoh’ accent
with soy sauce Singlish–

Just so she can understand,
you say.

Bragging about your children’s accomplishments,
you politely stifle a chuckle
when she spoke of tuition teacher woes
and a whole lot of education kerfuffle.

‘Oh my daughter studies at St. Hilda’s’
You brim with glee
‘My boy is an ACS boy’
with smacks of joy.

A break from the conversation–
your friend has reached her stop.
She’s got to visit her mother
at Canossian Home For The Elders
‘Actually she’s beginning to like it there very much you know’–

Drunk with satisfaction
over this lovely afternoon chatter
you attempt to ease into a siesta
back straight with as little head movement of course.

‘Must book appointment for Botox later,’
aggressively reprimands
the voice in your head.

A mad man who boards the train
unsettles your fragile nerves
with moans and cries and unwashed rags–
you desperately shut out the noise.

To distract yourself, you take solace
in the peculiar pathos of others.
‘Look at those nails…ooh! Someone needs a manicure.’
‘I hate when the train gets crowded–and people press themselves against me.’

You glance sideways nosily
glancing down at a student, at me.
‘Oh look, how hardworking–
let me find out what notes she reads.’

“UNIT LABOUR COST”, “PRODUCTIVITY TRENDS”;
“CHINA’S SURGING DEMAND”.
“PROPOSAL FOR PLEBISCITE”;
“THE INDIA-PAKISTAN QUESTION”.

Words that hound–
your inability
Stupendous jargon and terminology.

You shudder at the thought–
of the difficulty
but comfort yourself, saying
‘That’s how an education should be!’

I know your discomfort–
how your body hinged into rigidity.
Frozen at the complexity,
at your inability.

Perhaps it should haunt you,
disturb and torment you.
I laugh at your
pathetic insecurity.

With your perms and your rouge and your cracking, ghost-caked foundation
you stifle a chuckle in your head–
the one that laughs at you.

Comments: This poem was written on an MRT ride.

Dear Bari*

Dear Bari,
I still have many songs on my playlist which are nice and you haven’t heard.
Would you care for rock songs, or would you care for pop?
Tell me more about yourself…what do you do in that vast emptiness?
I call it emptiness, but I know it is and means the world to you.

I told you I’m not Japonais. I live in Singapore.
C’est une petite ville.
There are tall buildings on every inch of land.
There are many people, you become only one of the many.

There are conveniences of course, we have everything here.
There is no need to make a fire, it comes straight through pipes in walls.
There is no need for camels, people run very fast here.
They run so fast, when you catch them, their eyes are still wild and darting.
No chance for beautiful gazes under star-studded nights.

The only stars we have are those on our national flag.

We produce many things, our people are educated, driven and very good at giving presentations.
Some love to complain, some make it up with a love of food.
Or obsession. Over here, the lines between hobby and escape

aren’t very clear.
Many have tried to write up reports,
On the anxieties of modern living. And all that shit.
But peace is not economical. At least not inner peace.

You call yourself ‘Imazighen’ and pride yourself in being ‘free’. So what’s it like, and are you really free?

Dear Bari,
I live in Singapore. We have many tall buildings, there are many people on the streets.

*A common name for Berber males.

Comments: This poem and the one below is inspired from a meeting and conversation with a young Berber nomad in the Zagora desert, Morocco.

Dear Bari 2

Dear Bari,

Perhaps this will be the start of a thousand imaginary letters to you.
Somehow it’s cathartic, speaking to you. It’s always nice to speak to someone
a little different, a little distant—

As it always amuses me to recall
your stylish tranquility that echoes the wizened old,
yet flows in young-blooded rigour
Weathered by storms of sand
you sometimes belie
slight fatigue
and is maybe, just like me

This semester I have learnt about landscapes of the self
The prose poem, and what it means in mimesis
So I’ll fake a stab:

Yours may be the desert, but the real wasteland lies here
Where happiness is a mirage and people forever thirst
for that water not to be found

Emptiness cloaked in jewels,
Dazzling electric, synthetic noise
Anaesthetize hearts already grown cold

Where ugly people with ugly hearts lead ugly lives,
believing otherwise.
Though, we are not to blame.
We were brought up like this.
There are complications with the human condition and so forth.

Such that judgement passes through the hallways of irony
Even as it turns and faces a higher plane
Or self-reflexively stoops to put on its
mask of metaphor

Thread the meanings with your needle-eye
If you so wish, and give me credit
For more than I lie

I am sometimes very content—perhaps
too absorbed to even be grateful
Until a wall drops before my dance
That I realise the larger prison I was in.

Yet I am content for quiet nights like this
As I retreat to the tabula rasa of what was once me
Leaving clues for those with a penchant for
dissecting the poet according to her life
her whims, her innumerable idiosyncrasies

Only to essentialise and shrink
a person down to one
singular
identity.

This Night is Not Solely Ours to Savour

It’s 11.53pm in Rzeszów Główny
My friend smokes a cigarette
While I queue for stale fries
at the only shop that prostitutes itself
in this godforsaken hour.

An unshaven, homeless Frenchman approaches us
Making sexist, sexual gestures at us,
he turns mute when I borrow his native tongue.
“Vous venez quelle ville? En France…”
We smile, offer him a fry, ride
in the coaster car of his drunken wonderland

this night is not solely ours to savour

The image of smoke that encircles her tousled hair
draws castigating glances
from the native travellers
–even the shifty-looking ones–
who must be thinking “Shanghai Trash.”

But an air of nihilism
always comes in handy
in a foreign land
that marks and protects us as Untouchables — fearless
travellers of the night
Even as we wonder
where the fuck we are
In which part of this ancient and faraway land
That has not donned
the sensational veil that makes horror
digestible

We discuss what we love -and hate- about Literature
In a cabin all to ourselves
Fall into the arms of the night
whose lullaby is shrieks of
steel grating tracks
and the howling of cold, dusty winds

Rudely awoken by 2 Polish soldiers
Who barge into our cabins
with the authority of camouflage prints
Stare at us like illegal immigrants,
execute the one-over as they scan our passports,
Mesmerised by American visas, Ireland, Britain, Hong Kong…
The marks that tell them they can never be too careful
With these stowaways, even though they look like
Earnest Chinese Dolls
who, wait – what business could they have in this decrepit town

the tourism bureau has pledged to ignore

I peer out into beyond
the dust of the carriage windows – squint through
its frames which outline my view
To see blinking specks of orange, blue
the night
that calls out from afar
doesn’t want its SOS answered.

Comments: This poem was written while I was backpacking with my friend in Poland, passing by a town that is 1-2 hours away from Kraków.

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: