Could You Love This?

It falls alone like wilting flowers.

La vie en rose

Like a lipstick stain, left on a carseat
An egg-shaped rock chosen by gay penguins
A butterfly wing on a windowsill.
Just shy, just short of a prior.

Je suis amoureux, mais je suis mort

What is context but a broken backdrop,
What are details but lines,
What is a story but colours spilled beyond?

Someone sings in a kitchen, alone

‘Et ça me fait quelque chose.’

Toes rounding the corners of old ceramic tiles
Ragged, cracked, abandoned,
But the singing continues, carrying on, carrying forth.

Que sera, sera.

 

I Should Learn To Read Bus Numbers Better

 

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I took the wrong bus and ended up at your place today, dear.

The trees still look the same, even though it’s been a while since I last saw them. There is still graffiti on the walls and it still smells musty, like old lifts. But the diggers and aluminium walls weren’t here before, so I suppose some things have changed.

It’s not hard to just take another bus and get back on track, and I was already late after all, but it grew more enticing, more sensible, and perhaps a little more fun to wander around the block of HDB flats and pet a stray cat, hope that no cat-hater ever finds it. But the cat doesn’t really care, it just purrs as I scratch behind the ears. I left it sitting on the bench, and I watched as the cat yawned and went back to sleep.

You never liked to leave your house, but I’ve only noticed this in retrospection, from hours of Instagram-chasing. I’ve always been like this, too late, only remembering things in retrospection, realising things and noticing it, miles after something has passed me by. The person you knew before now wasn’t shielded by rose tinted lenses, just blind to things that weren’t reflective.

Do you remember that there was a frangipani in front of my block? The white flowers were always in a pile beneath it, like it never stopped growing and shedding, all at once. I never told you how when I was little, I used to watch my friends climb it, while being too afraid to ascend. But I wasn’t afraid of the narrow ledges, you held my hand as I tight-roped across.

It has never occurred to me, how much of me you never knew. It has never been like me to notice the lack of information we had of each other, and perhaps that was where we went wrong. I think it was where I went wrong- Not that all of it was my fault alone. But it seems to me that I never asked questions that were important, how the surface of our concrete ground seemed enough for the two of us.

Occurring to me now, is truth that remains buried deep under. Occurring to me now, only after everything is over, is the part where I went wrong.

Everything, in the end, became all about me, didn’t it? You know the answer- No one else will know the truth we hold within our bodies. Tell me if you know it, please, if I’ve finally gotten it right.

There are more important things, clearly. I know that now, and it’s far too late to tell you about everything I know. The fact that I know will never be enough. The fact that I’m different will never be enough. The fact that I’m sorry will never be enough.

It’s not that I want you back. I don’t, you never liked telling me that you didn’t want to go out and you left me feeling used. You gave me dog tags with our names engraved on it and I lost them, deep in my body where it became tidal waves of anger and sadness and regret, and I know it’s because of you.

But it’s not about me, or what I know, or who I am. It’s about you, what I turned you into, in poems and stories, it’s about who you were that I never took the time to know. I knew you then, but who you were was lost to my obsession with little things. You, who never let go of me, the tightrope walker.

A branch from the frangipani tree in front of my house broke a while ago. Some kid tried too hard to climb. Nothing will make that tree the same again. But it keeps growing.

I boarded the correct bus this time. I won’t look back again, so listen carefully, before the wind steals these words that will never be enough:

I am sorry.

And just like that, you were gone.

Sonnet for Cold Showers

– Written for SingPoWriMo, Day 7’s Prompt: The Found/Fount Sonnet Prompt:

In this creative prompt, we’ll be working with a new version of a classic poetic form, quaintly named The Found//Fount Sonnet.

Yes, it’s one more thang to add to our expanding catalogue of Southeast Asian forms. The Italians have the Petrarchan sonnet; the English have their Shakespearean and Spenserian sonnets. Billy Collins has written “American Sonnet”, with Tomaz Salamun penning “Sonnet to a Slovenian”. And of course, from good ol’ Joshua Ip, we have his collection, Sonnets From the Singlish, which co-won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2014.

Take the found//fount sonnet as a fresh, newfangled formal variation of our very own.

 

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I shiver under the icy shower and grieve for your peeling skin
While we wash away all our evening sins,
letting you scrub away all the dead cells from my body; rinse and repeat
Nonetheless, we scald our tongues on all that we eat
If I could put this moment, your hands on my body,
open mouthed kisses and sandwiches gone soggy,
in a picture frame, I would somehow be
whole, even while everything still tastes of clay
I would be home, on your bed while we lay,
watching an otter as it searches, frantic, for another hand to anchor itself upon
lest it floated away, into nowhere, under nothing.
I want to shiver under cold showers with you, where we could still be something
While we still have all the time; so turn the lights on
For our burnt tongues, lost skin, shivering bodies and please, say that you’d hold on to me.

We Wear Glasses To See Better

Written for Day 4 of Singapore Poetry Writing Month: The Haterade Prompt:

Write a love poem to an aspect of yourself that you hate. Or at the very least get annoyed by. Or at least wish you could change. This could be something about yourself that scares, angers, disgusts, or disappoints you. This could be a bad habit, condition, physical attribute, something you used to believe in the past, something you did in the past, someone you fear becoming in the future. Think about how this affects you. Does it harm you or others? How? If not, what caused you to hate it? If it were a person, who would it be? What would your life be like if it was changed?

I wrote two poems for this prompt. One about my acne, and one about girls who hate their face in glasses. The form used for this poem was a Ghazal.

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Girl ponders over a prom invitation, dreams of Boy
cries in her sleep, wishes to be whole

Boy wanders the halls, thinks it echoes
smiles at her, she feels whole

Girl shivers when thunder eats her, wishes for Boy
to save her, but she isn’t whole

Boy considers the umbrella, wants to fall
but she wears glasses, but he wishes she was whole

Girl smoulders with the kindling, squints at Boy
she says goodbye to eyesight, forgets to feel whole

Boy shoulders past Girl, scoffs at her face
she is not enough, yet he swallows her whole

Girl ponders over the prom invitation, dreams of Boy
she wonders if this is what it is, to be whole

Boy wanders the halls, thinks it echoes
smiles at girls who don’t smile back, wishes they weren’t whole

Girl shudders as the world refocuses, and he is blurry
but she is not empty without him, instead, she is whole.

Wish

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I wish you weren’t so damn charming
I wish you had shifty eyes and red flag habits
I wish you were ugly.
I wish everything you said or did was a signal for me to run as fast as I could.

I wish your sense of humour was more out of phase with mine
I wish I could stop keeping my hands free just in case you want to hold them
I wish I would stop liking guys who will never fall in love with me

Continue reading “Wish”