Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 30


Death drifted through the park one spring day
And his thoughts were not of grimness nor reaping
But of strange things:
The red balloon, floating ownerless over the trees
Like a great, angry eye
The colour of each blade of grass
Pale celadon, so clean and fresh
And the scent of earth like a pungent perfume
Urgent, fertile, rich with life.
“Oh Mister, could you help me please?” she called
And Death wondered that he’d not seen her
Before that moment:
Sitting on the back of a great stone leopard
Near the fountain
Clarinet-warm voice
Lilting like birdsong in the clear morning
Red-striped white flamenco dress as prominent
As the blood of a murder victim on clean snow.
“Please Mister Death, his wings are encased in stone,” she pleaded.
He would fly to the ends of the earth -
To the ends of the earth and beyond, if only he could break free.”
And Death marvelled at her boldness.
“Do you trust me?” he asked, and she nodded simply - 
A solemn girl-child, almost a woman
With a great purple-black mane of hair
And eyes dark as black grapes
And Death remembered his youth when he looked at her.

A touch from his thin hand.
Cracks blossomed over stone wings like veins
And suddenly, pinions blue as the sky
Burst forth from their prison.
“Thank you!” exclaimed the girl. Death inclined his head
Before looking at her for a long moment.
“I don’t know how to fly,” he said gravely. “Will you teach me?”
The girl smiled, holding out her hand.

Into the sky sailed the leopard on its great blue wings
Carrying Death and the Maiden
And the red balloon watched from its unwinking eye
As they disappeared into the distance
Once upon a Springtime, long ago and far away.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 29


What I remember best are lanterns:
Lanterns on the water on the fourteenth day
Of the lunar month
Drifting, heart’s-flicker-radiant
Downstream on the currents.

When I was here last, I too put a lantern
Into the water, and a wish -
But the flame snuffed out.

I am returning, oh river
To set my wish adrift again
Amidst the coloured nebulae of lanterns
Reflections quivering like butterflies
Upside down, under your tranquil surface.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 29


Nail scissors: check
Comb: check
Razor blade: check
Mirror: check
Now all I need is some courage
(And more Luck than Lady).
How the devil do you use the razor
On something as fragile as an eyebrow?
One stray scrape too much
And voila! Bald patch!

All right, all right, I’m procrastinating.
Let’s see (scrape scrape scrape)
Don’t press too hard on skin
The packaging reads.
Oh, I’m nowhere NEAR pressing hard.
Damn it, there goes one hair I needed –
Ah to blazes with it
That’s what eyebrow pencils are for.

Shape, shape, shape –
Dubious, but Fate can only be tempted so far.
All right, trimming time.
So that’s why nail scissors are curved like so
(Comb stray hairs up and trim, they say
Oh hell was that a chunk too much?)

Amazingly, it’s not overly terrible –
That left side  will forever be a pain
And – huzzah! - I still have eyebrows.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 27

Prompt: Hay(na)ku: Variant of haiku which consists of a three-line stanza, where the first line has one word, the second line has two words, and the third line has three words.

In memorian, Nepal

Broken dolls
Mama's battered skull.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 26


The art of packing is the art of condensing.
It is as much about knowing what to put in
As what to leave out.
Essentials first – the bare bones of your life
(When did mine begin including multiple copies
Of music scores and Febreeze
Hair pins and safety pins
And a head full of conducting patterns?)
Everything else will just have to fit between.

What you discard says as much
As what you pack - maybe more
And in the discards, perhaps
Is the key to simplifying life.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 25

Kintsugi is the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery with lacquer that is dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Such breakage is treated as part of the history of the object and respected as such, rather than something to be disguised and hidden. The application in life is perhaps not so blindingly obvious, but definitely thought-provoking.


Break me like an egg against a bowl
Gold-and-white, spilling like seed
A broken perfume jar leaking fragrance
A halved lemon, bruised skin staining fingers
With the sharp tang of scented oil
For until I have been broken
I am merely a pristine museum piece
Sheltered and coddled
But never fully alive.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 25


We are all statistics
According to the research.
We are percentages and decimal points.
But you see
I don’t want to be a statistic
A number that has meaning
But which ultimately can be manipulated
To suit the need of the moment.
I want to be the anomaly
The thing which throws into question
All statistics, that makes you stop
And wonder, Why is this so?
I want to be the voltage surge
That breaks the circuit
So the fault can be corrected.
I don’t want to be meaning
But to give meaning.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 23


You can't escape it however you deny it
The connection is there, sure as anxiety attacks and phobias
Stress takes its toll and the body gives way
The dying woman holds on for one week more
Just to see her son one final time
The mind, eaten up by jealousy
Riddles the body with crippling illness
Curious that we don't think to use this connection
For our own benefit:
When the mind is at peace the body follows
And the old saying, 'It's all in the mind'
Is truer, perhaps, than we know.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 22


inevitably you'll always lose some
and you wonder what you could've done
to keep them from sinking
to keep them fighting
to keep that bulldog light in their eyes
burning brightly despite the hits
the misses
the hard times
because some make it and some don't
but you, you know better
and you could've saved them
if only you tried harder
were wiser
were the PhD / MA / Super Person
that everyone respects and loves
looking at the all and forgetting
that in the all, there is the one
who survived, who thrived
til the small 'thank you'
from an even smaller voice made large
by something you gave
and never realised
the seed you planted
and never thought would grow.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 21

Prompt: Landay (9 syllables first line, 13 syllables second line)


Poets describe the land: words blossom.
Words drop from politicians’ mouths: landmines exploding.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 20


Tell me the magic and mystery of names:
That words, in any language
Can conjure up memory and madness
Fire synapses, activate nerves.
The ancients believed that to name a thing
Is to hold its true nature
In the palm of one’s hand.
Tread lightly then, for you hold my name
In yours.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 19


hot knife with a jagged blunt edge
slicing through the guts
barbed wire tumbleweed
in the skull
acid blossoms
on nerve edges
a thousand needles
under the skin
a wildfire of red ants
biting their way
through the sinuses

Sunday, April 19, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 18

Prompt: An urgent message and urgent journey / travel, historical, fictional, or fantastical. I seem to have chosen 'Melodramatic' (and no, I don't have a husband, but the scenario was amusing enough to latch onto my brain.)


My cell phone is off for my date of the night:
Fine dining for dinner sounds just about right.

My husband’s been given instructions for food:
Lasagna in freezer. Reheat, and it’s good.

PS: The restaurant’s on XXX Street.
And now, let me finally savour my treat –

A lamb rack so tender, potatoes so smooth
A chocolate dessert to relax and to soothe.

Behold my alarm when my husband I see
Umbrella’d and drenched, running right up to me!

The house is on fire or flooded by rain!
Catastrophic visions dance wild in my brain!

Or possibly family’s in trouble – oh dear
Deceased is more likely, for him to come here…

I clutch at his sleeve. “Quickly! Tell me who died!”
“How do you turn on the oven?” he cried.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 17

#17: RAIN

Or is that the sound of thunder
Crackling from my own heart
As I put you away for good
In the coffin where old follies lie?

No matter.
I have you bound with chains
That even Hellboy cannot break.
Like a mad witch I cavort and caper
Relishing the burial of an unclean thing.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 16

#16: SALT

Is like salt
Flavouring dishes
Healing wounds
Yet too much
Produces a bitter taste.

Like salt
Is palatable
Only when diluted
If salt
With water
If honesty
With love.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 15

Three years ago today, my oldest friend from university passed away suddenly, leaving a huge, irreplaceable hole in my life. Sha and Van are the two defining characters that we played on an online RPG, and it felt only right to honour his memory for today's piece.

For Brian
The horizon’s dark with a faint glow
Blooming where cityscape meets sky -
Deep purple ombre against a starless night
Buildings in silhouette like Chinese paper cuts
And I wonder if this is the view that Sha and Van
Fell asleep to in each new Fringe port
Uncertain about tomorrow, content enough
To know they would face it together
Till chance parting, or death
Or both.
Only one of us watches now, separated
By that insidious ‘both’
But the same constellations smile down
As those that we walked under
So many summers ago and if I really try
I can still hear echoes of our laughter
Far far away in that Neverland
Where memories never grow old.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 14

I did fall asleep in biology class once. Except I fell backwards and hit my head on the tap on the sink behind me, which was certainly less than dignified.


The samurai sitting at the edge of my bed
Is the wrong shape, size and colour –
They don’t come in pink as far as I know
Nor do they wield polka dotted swords
Or have the Animaniacs as retainers,
Singing ‘Bali Hai’ with kazoos.
Or maybe not.
It sounds more like the Alphabet Song
And something about exploding elements
Carbon derivatives – isn’t that farting?
Please kiss me… wait, did I say that out loud
Or did I think it?
(I’m drooling. It’s not dignified.)
I must have because he’s leaning in and –


“…If you’re quite finished sleeping in class, Miss Kusanagi
Perhaps you would be so good as to pick up your stool
Remove yourself from the floor
And attend to this lesson on organic chemistry.”

Duly chastised, I attend.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 13


You’re the hole in my head
Dead centre between the eyes
Snubnose bullet rattling in my skull
Hot from a smoking gun
Instant fatality like a video game end boss
There’s no way back to Kansas, Dorothy
A gaming console with no replay button
No save function
I bleed my life out in wit and words
Thinking I never knew what hit me.

Well you did.

Amnesia would be preferable
To the cruelty of the unattainable.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 12

Prompt: Prose poem from detailed description of favourite place, meal, or person


Books everywhere – four wooden shelves
stacked, bursting
overflowing onto the floor
by the bed.

I say bed, but really
it’s just a mattress (a bedstead
would be too big in a room so small)

A mirror finally after so many years –
wouldn’t be necessary were it not
for conducting practice.

The Major – redoubtable desktop computer
runs smooth as a skater’s blade on ice
graces the writing desk that’s home
to everything else:
scanner, speakers, pliers, pencils,
essential oils.

We won’t talk about the closet
so little space, no drawers.

Attached bathroom, a gift
if ever there was one
boxed-up momentos of past lives
along one wall.

Small but this is home

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 11


The lungs of a six-year old
Have a capacity that opera singers would envy.
No, I tell you, and a fresh round of tears
Lays siege to the weary night:

My demanding boy-child
This too is a kind of love:
The invisible cords with which
I have bound my hands
Preventing me from playing God
Or at least, granting your every wish.
 (I’ll apologise to the neighbours tomorrow.)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 10

Prompt: An abecedarian poem (ie: a poem with a structure derived from the alphabet) 

Bad enough, right. Nooooo, my brain decides it has to use font names in alphabetic order as well. 


Arial’s buying Calibri dinner.
Eaten, Futura?
Garamond has Irma’s Jester.
Knock-kneed Lucida – 
Morbid numbskull or party queen?
Reel Scriptina’s Trebuchet
Under Verdana’s Wingding *xoanon,
You Zapf!

*Xoanon: Primitive wooden statue overlaid with ivory and gold.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 9

Prompt: Shaped poem. Or at least, some semblance of shamisen shape, anyways.

Shamisen'ya No Yuuji, or Yuuji of the Shamisen Shop, is my favourite character in a very old Japanese TV series, 'Hissatsu Shigotonin'. By day he repairs and makes shamisen in the shop that he and his mother own; by night he's an assassin who despatches his victims with shamisen strings via hanging or strangulation.

#9: Shamisen'ya No Yuuji

There is artistry in the plucking
Of a shamisen string
And the taking of a life.
It is all in the skill, the fingers.
Amazing that so thin a line of silk
Can sing so mournful a tune
And also hang a man.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 8

Late because this was harder to write than expected, and took an extra two days to finally take some sort of shape. Still isn't perfect, but hopefully the sentiment got into the words and onto the page.


Steal me, oh thief Time - my youth and years
That age not touch you nor sully your strength
Grow old with me, stay with me
That I will not bury you before I die.
Let my lifeblood seep into yours
That I may take on the weakness of age
And you remain young.
The loss of you would shatter my universe
A black hole remaining where your presence
Has been everything:
My life, my love, my existence.
The shadows creep forward on Time's sundial
Like Hezekiah, I will them to turn back.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 7

For all the research I've done into Japanese cultural history, it never really registered that one of the Three Sacred Treasures was the Kusanagi sword. Until today. Which led to a sort of random connection leap to Ghost In The Shell and Major Kusanagi, and even more random speculation about the possibility of the Kusanagi part of it being a link between past and present, and... you get the picture. Congratulations if you're confused - I am too. The fascinating details of the mythology itself can be found in the Kojiki.

#7: Kusanagi

There is, in my distant memory
An echo of something more ancient than time:
Blinding light, utter darkness
The throb of blood in the ears
The rushing of many waters.
A malfunction of neural circuitry, they say
Easy enough with cybernetics as complex as mine.
False memories – not so unusual
In an augmented cyborg body
But for all their science the technicians
Can’t explain this odd… connection?
If that be the word:
A flash of déjà vu - open grassland
Under a blazing sky, comets of fiery arrows
Sword steel forged in the fires of the gods
And a strange power coursing through my veins.
Like a goddess I rise
One with the grass and the blade.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 6

Inspired by the cheesy, absolutely cute and guiltily enjoyable Japanese TV series that is Neko Zamurai

#6: Morning Still Life With Samurai And Cat

The samurai wakes with a grunt and a start
A weight on his chest has just caused him to stir
A growl as he chases his cat from its place -
His garment's now thoroughly covered with fur.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 5

Inspired by John Connolly's achingly lovely Book of Lost Things

#5: The Seeker

I am gone down to the Land of Lost Things
To look for my heart.
Light as a feather it fell from my lips
When first we kissed
And flew away, flew away.

I am gone down to the Land of Lost Things
To ransom my heart.
Love took it captive; so gently it fell
Under her spell
And stole away, stole away.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 4


In my quest for growth
I have often sloughed you off
Like a skin, a snake skin:
A thing of loose scales and patches –
This culture, these concepts.
Yet always I am surprised
By another layer, regenerated
Without my realising:
Your ‘lahs’, your ‘tapaos’, your ‘mamaks’
Too close beneath my skin
Species Warga Malaysia
Despite repeated discards.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 3


A Noh mask wears a neutral expression.
The carver tries to convey a variety of feelings on its wooden face
But it is the performer who imbues it with emotion.
Terasu – tilt up, and it appears to smile
Kumorasu – tilt down, and a slight frown appears.
Minute movements can convey so much –
A full range of emotional expression
Shades of meaning, all contextual.

Words are a Noh mask and you the performer
No curtain between us – you on the stark stage of our troubled love
And I in the audience below.

Friday, April 03, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 2 (In Case Tomorrow Doesn't Happen Due To Life)

Prompt: Constellations


The pattern is set:
The down beat, the up beat
Point A to Point B, then C, and D
Sometimes E or more
Descending, ascending
From the ictus –
That invisible plane
The constant from which
All conducting springs
Patterns as recognisable
As the constellations above
Each beat-point a star
Held together by rhythm’s gravity
Revolving in the music of the spheres.

NaPoWriMo 2015: Day 1

I was reminded by a friend that it's National Poetry Writing Month again - and as usual, I wasn't prepared but I still want to give it a shot. So, here goes #1!


I watch you feel your way
In the dark of your pain
A young tree
Already gnarled and twisted
From elements and harsh weather
Branches straining towards sun
Tiny leaf shoots struggling to bloom.
This too is a kind of courage:
To keep fighting despite the odds -
A pale green thread
Running through your sap’s lifeblood.
I hold my will in my hands
Like a talisman, a warm stone
Burying it in the soil of your uncertainty
Hoping with a reckless desperation
That your roots will wrap around it –
An anchor for the incoming storm.