May your feet rot in everlasting agony. May gout strike you and keep you prone And may your liver sicken with unknown cancers And give up mysteriously on you. May your hair drop and your eyes blear with cataract And may your thieving, greedy hands Thicken with arthritis and atrophy in two weeks. May you never know a month’s wage or even a day’s pay Because no employer will keep you for longer. May everything you care about Be taken from you and may you be destitute For the rest of your mean, useless life. May nothing you set your hands to prosper And may everything you touch wither and be destroyed. May every traffic light turn red for you In your worst hurry And may diarrhoea strike you in the middle of a 4-hour jam With no lavatory in sight. May roaches infest your house and mice your kitchen May your children be devoured by snakes. May your blood vessels burst and give you aneurysm And may you not reach hospital in time to prevent brain damage. May your skin crawl with the pain of shingles And may you find no rest nor cure. Be stricken with terminal illness, and be unable to die. Be humiliated, and unable to defend yourself. Be cuckolded, time and time over, in public May pain and suffering strike you over and over again May you be paralyzed and unable to move And may you have not a single moment's peace or relief For the rest of your blighted, unsightly, unproductive life.
A tiny snip. The careful separation Of warp and weft. Drawing out threads, meticulous As a weaver bird crafting its nest. With needle and thread Fashion patterns from negative space - Intimate, delicate, lovely. Teach me to endure: To see each hardship and pain As a drawing forth of threads Making space in the close fabric of a life To exhale – to breathe – To create from its sparseness Transcendent beauty.
Note: I know I read a poem ages ago about levitating phone booths, and I cannot for the life of me find it anywhere online - the book's in my hometown. So, apologies to the poet whose name I can't remember - this is a fond tribute, not a rip-off because I have very fond memories of that particular poem.
secret lives of phone booths are complicated.
stand, solitary street confessionals
eavesdroppers of conversation
graffiti mark has its tale:
Marz luvs Joolz. Call Me xx-xxx
U sounded like coordin8s 2 avoid
were an invitation 2 bed
Down with taxes! right
next to Have more sex, it’s free.
booths hold the weight of the world
their cramped, four-walled confines.
heavy air laden with secrets
Claustrophobic with anxiety and sweat
rank odour of dead dreams and stale food
insistent, insidious permeation.
gravity is hard to carry.
night I heard a phone booth whispering to another
the telephone line:
soft, dull patter like the rustle of directory pages.
stopped politely when I made my call
dropping through the slot like cheap marbles.
At eleven you might have showed promise of height But genetics defeated you. By thirteen you sat at the front Of the classroom again. Awkward, sharp-tongued gypsy with just vocabulary for defence You built book castles in the air With thoughts for companions. At sixteen the whole world knew you'd never attract the boys. Too many angles. Too outspoken. Too self-sufficient to be easily charmed. Too much the lone traveller on uncommon paths. You buried your pain in words In letters to a man-boy who'd break your heart in college Though in hind sight, it was inevitable. Back then your rage moved mountains Fuelled by wounds that had no voice Save through paper and keyboards and online games.
In the dark of a summer's night you wrestle with loss Future balanced on the point of a kitchen knife.
Little one, I reach through the glass of two decades Hand on your ghostly shoulder to tell you: Your world did not end. Your heart will break a thousand times more Before you find your footing But the past will not drown you. You will make mistakes The darkness will come again, many times But you will fight, and you will live to sing the survivor's tale Like lilacs in a dead land, your roots will go deep.
I will tell you, future to past: Forgive your failures. Love yourself A little more. This is not the end, child with the face of my girlhood It is only a colon. In the end of this, is your beginning: You fade into me, and I become you.
April is indeed the cruelest month. How times flies -
two years almost to the day
You left us so
Perhaps we could
have loved each other if we tried -
Solitude is hard to
break for lone souls
In hindsight, there
was wisdom in our 'no'.
Perhaps I could
have been kinder
Perhaps I could
have tried harder To breach the distance. Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps. But time heals all things, even regrets And April, however cruel Remains bittersweet - a rosemary wreath. Forgive me, corazon, for lost time. I wait in my dreams for you to rise A forgotten angel with tattered wings. Here are my hands, outstretched Holding this last kiss for you.
Note: Jalur Gemilang, or Glorious Stripes, is a name of honour we use for our Malaysian flag. Unstitch me this flag
Where colour is creed
And coconuts in a bomoh's hand
Weigh more than Justice
On a scale.
Unstitch me these lines
Dissecting this land
Where divisions of skin
Count more than conscience
And social need.
Redraw the boundaries of What Is and What Should Be -
Truth is a hard mistress but Lies Decay the soul.
Break the ground with brittle promises
Suppress the brutal honesty you fear
But weeds, so tenacious, will grow through cracks:
Let the truth rise from the least of these
Let our flag fly -
Undivided by colour or creed
United by this common coat of scars.
I hadn't actually even considered doing NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, not until a good friend posted the link and drew my attention to it. 30 days of poetry is a lot of commitment, and I was quite sure I wouldn't have the time.
With a few insanely busy upcoming months, including 3 classes and a whole lot of work-related projects, it would have been the height of folly to even think of merrily joining in.
So I did.
Victorian Wedding Portrait The camera loves her but she does not love it back
Returning from a country not my own is always a fresh revelation - a new set of eyes.
I came back from Australia yesterday, and I never felt so happy to be back in the dusty, haze-laden over-heated oven that I call home. Malaysia isn't perfect, but many of my most complicated emotions are tied up in this yam-shaped mass of land on the map. To quote Chesterton's Father Brown, it's embedded in my heart 'an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.'
Kuala Lumpur coast line from the air, shortly before landing
I come back. Time and time again, despite my best rebellious efforts, I come back.
Last Thursday night when the plane took off, I wrote a letter.
Last night when the plane took off, outside the window it was a constellation of lights from the city, all of it outlined against the jet black sky. Bright twinkling yellow speckled through with colours, just like proper stars. A constellation needs a name - I kept thinking of what I might name it, and fell asleep before I could.
When I woke up, there was the most glorious sunset outside the window. I’ve never seen such vivid colours, ever - deep burnt orange to fire-streak flame, dividing the blue of the sky and the darkness below it. I took a picture of it for you.
There’s frost on the window - tiny little needles of it on the edges of the glass. I can feel the cold on my cheek if I go too near. Below is a mottled, greeny brown landscape of snaking tributaries and patches of darkish green that could be trees. There are straight lines that must be man-made roads. They dissect the land like compass points.
Behind us, it’s misty like a mirage, a cloud bank - and then suddenly, as you pan across to the view ahead in my window, the scene sharpens into focus.
There are gullies, and now towns, and little clumps of civilisation. Big shimmering bodies of what could be water. The sky’s lightening up now, the colours no longer as startling.
We’re entering Gold Coast territory. This is the Australian outback below me, and I am suddenly struck…dumb? No, not dumb, just bereft of words. I don’t know how to feel. I’ve read so much about this land all my life, in stories, in poems, and now suddenly I’m here.
The outback is unforgiving as it is arid, but there’s a stark beauty in its austerity too. The sun is unforgiving too now - bright, hot, fierce.
And it’s morning. My first morning in the Great Australian Continent.
When we finally landed on the tarmac at the LCCT yesterday, my first thought was, 'I'm home again.' The feeling was indescribable. Almost like falling perilously in love, tumbling into a dangerous liaison.
I'm home again. This, too, is a kind of happiness.
I came. I saw. I created. I blogged. I love guppies and chainmaille and wirework, and all manner of creative endeavours. I moonlight as a singer occasionally, and sometimes I even teach choral singing in the Real World when it catches up with me - which it usually does.