Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rabindrath Tagore- from the collection: Gitanjali

Day after day, O lord of my life, shall I stand before thee face to face? With folded hands, O lord of all worlds, shall I stand before thee face to face?

Under thy great sky in solitude and silence, with humble heart shall I stand before three face to face?

In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with toil and with struggle, among hurrying crowds shall I stand before thee face to face?

And when my work shall be done in this world, O King of kings, alone and speechless shall I stand before thee face to face?

Friday, June 8, 2007

okay, explanation for the blog title. its from one of my favourite poems:

by grace chua

1. ying3/shadow

not fantastic, just reflected light.
i wish i had your second sight,
but all i am is seconds late. you race ahead,
i'm just delayed, bouncing off you
and stumbling into walls
in my haste. i'm such a waste
of time, forever
skulking in your shadow, now and then i fall
through windows, beaming, and all
i do is hurt myself. slowed
by my own medium, trying to catch
the uncertain sunshine of your smile.

oh, this daylight no one can save.

2. neon gods

following the wrong god home
like hansel or gretel, crouched
in a cage of your own making,
a birdcage made of light that lingers
down your interlocking fingers
down the bridge of your nose, doing a flip
and careening down your spine.
preening, you
give me that look. you give me chills.
you're mine.
restless young angel
smashing lightbulbs to fight the darkness
with shards of broken glass.

you used to be
a prodigy,
now you're just
a shot
in the dark.
i'm sorry, we all make
that sort of mistake,
it was just
a trick
of the light

3. illumination

the oldest game, the greatest show
never ask me how i know
never ask how tricks are done
that would ruin all your fun
soda sluts and candymen
showtown girls and caravans
razzledazzle superstar
high up, on trapezia
smoke-and-mirror scatterlight
take me from the world tonight
mirages masking shades of grey
live fast, nothing gold can stay
are you going to the fair?
will you help to get me there?

don't ask strangers for directions
little girls, whose indiscretions
lead to nasty shocks, may cry.
no one tells the truth: they lie
in the gold of rainbows' ends.
here nobody makes amends.
defloweration and diffusion
carouselling in confusion
senses gape at bright illusion

EXIT (,stu,mbling,ly)

don't rub the magic lamp the wrong way

Thursday, June 7, 2007

published in 'but,' 05. supposed to be like, a performance piece in writing. and really, did not warrant the deathglare my beloved writing mentor gave me. i was 17! for crying out loud. am thinking of reworking it so that it would be more... performance friendly



I’d trace the Cyrillic words for truth on your eyelids
Shade the way the shadows hold you
Dip my hands in ink, and there would be
Two curved trails of fingerprints, tracing where your wings would have been
My name in Arabic on the back of your neck, where you can’t see it
Just above yours, in any language you love.

Down, down, down your spine
The figure-shapes of all the languages I can think of
Cambodian, Japanese, Bengali
For love and everything else too perfect that I would rather you not know I want
In old, old languages, where the ache of history has lingered on.

I would trace your lifeline and mark the constellations around it
Your lifeline: the Big Dipper, your love line: Orion’s belt
These marks Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Draco
I’d cover your scars with promises; mark your bruises with lies.

In the thinnest pen I would write everything I could never say to you
In my handwriting that you can’t be bothered to read
Inking the gaps between your hands and mine.
okay, this poem just frustrates me. its not particularly brilliant, especially with the non-ending. but i like bits of it. so shall just put it up. the only thing i wrote for like, 18months. comments MUCH appreciated.


This city with its stone streets is not mine
Fought over by the men like boys today
Sitting in front of me with blood on their knuckles and scars under their eyes
Learning languages spoken by their enemies
The streets are spoken for and the girls are
Corners, defining men and air

The winds are political, they bend over the young
Caressing faces, shaping limbs, then they look up and smile
Marble, like the memory of a knife
And hit the old with gales, the useless with force, they destroy the unbending
The different, those who are outside, those on the news tonight

The winds say walk with me, or fight

There is glass on the streets, under shoes, there is glass in the air
The windows are shattered, there will be no hope tomorrow
Because tonight the bars stay open and prayer only speaks at dawn

Blood is keeping the city warm
The blood of mistaken identities in the park, in the parking lot
The blood in the vomit of the children studying to be doctors
Pretending not to be scared by the dead becoming familiar
Blood in the memories of old deaths, the old man trading cigarettes for warmth has his name on the wall for the Great Wars, the dead wars
The wars that the grandchildren that would be theirs are still fighting

They are restless in the old graveyards, they know it will be pointless

There is blood in the languages, the conquered who are accused of conquering.
There is blood in the spice, of the jewel in the crown, of the heathen dead
Blood in the accents of the living
Those who have traded their languages willingly,
Sell a past to buy a future, sell a future to buy today.


(see, no ending. argh.)
published in 'eye on the world' 04, i think. am the proudest of this poem. once in a while i take it out and read it and feel all happy. i know, so sad right.


A city from sand

They live like sultans, simply, in an istana of wood
By a stream that stopped paying tribute a generation ago
Mahsuri is still bleeding white, cursing her own people for seven generations
Hang Tuah sits by the window, balancing his keris on one bony finger
Still thinking if he should have loved the one who loved him best

Puteri Gunung Ledang knows now what she will ask the Sultan for
It will not be the seven trays of mosquito hearts, or the seven jars of virgins’ tears
Or even the bowl of blood from his son, because she knows he has bled him dry already
She will ask him to teach their people to remember what they have lost
And who they might have become

They who have kept but one promise, an old one by their ancestor
Demang Lebar Daun to Sang Nila Utama , liege-man to his king,
To serve those who rule them without treachery or dishonour.

While those who have overthrown Sang Nila Utama
Through the coup d’etat of stories systematically shot in the head
Have filed him away,
Descendant of King Solomon and Alexander the Great,
Into children’s stories and cheap local paperbacks
As the slightly foolish young man who was so entranced by one lion
That he created a city from sand.

December 2004

Mahsuri- Central character of a Malay myth who is wrongly lynched for adultery
Hang Tuah- Legendary Malay hero who killed his best friend, who had been running amok, on orders from the sultan
Keris- Traditional dagger
Puteri Gunung Ledang- Mythical fairy princess who lives on top of Mt. Ledang in Malaysia. Asks for impossible wedding gifts from suitors so as to discourage them
Demang Lebar Daun- Chief Minister to Sang Nila Utama
Sang Nila Utama- Founder of Singapore, also Palembang ruler from which many Malay Sultans claim descent