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 wanna take you with me baby lets just fucking overdose

i don’t know what to say, today.
but i guess that is how we had always been,
with lips steeped in silence
soft bodies folding over
spilling
easily
pooling around
our unspoken conversations

this is the norm, to talk about
things we could talk about
and to think about what i want to show you today
whether you would laugh at me again
please, laugh at me
i am but a clown waiting for the tightrope to snap

does anyone else see this?
the pretence of a joyous departure
the idea of adventure
the blanket globe
our assumed future
where are we going? does anyone have a map?

14 hours
13,060 kilometers
5 more years
you, and me
a westbound train

all you had to do
was say you never want to stop dancing
to our off-beat liquid love
and all you had to do
was live like you wanted to die
like tomorrow we were going to fall off the earth
like the flat-earthers were right

if only —
all we had to do —
why couldn’t we —
if you were —
why —

I have questions in my stomach
where our butterflies took flight
but I still vomit wings into the bathroom sink
I want to know everything
and you are an overdue library book

all you had to do was —

it must be the depression.

I’m not great at repetition.

When you are awake at 2.35am, feeling like crap
It must be the depression.
When you are making instant noodles to fill the void,
It must be the depression.

When you can’t tell whether you are happy with a poem,
It must be the depression.
When you can’t think of a good reason to skip school other than “I’m tired”,
It must be the depression.

It is easy to chalk everything up to the lack of a chemical in your brain
Just as easy as getting out of bed
When you aren’t able to find a good reason to wake up
So you say it must be the depression
Even though it no longer sounds valid.

When you are just so tired of trying to find a valid reason to live
Eat
Breathe
It is just so much easier to say that you are tired.

When your friends asks you why your eyes are puffy
It is just that much easier to say you watched a sad movie where the dog dies
Than say that you were watching said movie at 3am trying to feel something
And you weren’t crying because the dog died.

When you are too worn out to feel anything
When you are too apathetic to care if the house is on fire
When you are too fucking frustrated that you can’t just feel something while reading an emotional poem

It is easier to just say that you are tired
Even if
It must be the depression.

-End-

An Ode to the Asshole Cat That Wouldn’t Leave the HDB Flat Someone Else Was Trying to Move Into

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Stupid asshole cat.

Are you trying to fly again, my dear?
You’re brandishing the broomstick like a man on a mission,
Staring out at the boundless sky, where the lady in the moon
Is awaiting her replacement.

Shoot up the bedroom-
Bang, bang, bang
Scream out “IT’S ALWAYS ME LAH, MY FAULT LAH-“
I will still be here, always here.

You are dancing in the living room,
Stirring up the dust mice, shaking up the grout
I will chase them away, the rats and the roaches
Just for you.

I trip over the same spot every morning.
A little ledge before the kitchen,
Just before you drop.
The threshold gets me every time.

Slowly and shakily, shivering into a stop
I try to avoid the puddles on the floor,
They are deadly to you, your sightless eyes,
But I do not understand why.

I am afraid, sometimes.
The broom swishes unpleasantly, trapping tasty spiders
Before it crash-lands upon my back,
But I’m still here, and that’s okay, isn’t it?

You are the only home I’ve got left.
If you fly away, take me with you
If you dance a pas de deux, hold me closer to you
If you fall, I will pull you up as many times as it takes,

Just don’t leave me-
Please.
Don’t go, darling, don’t leave me.

I left a dead mouse
At the foot of your missing bed.

It’s the only one I’ve ever managed to catch.

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.

(in)Visible

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Poem for the closeted

If you can only watch Pink Dot from behind closed doors,
Remember that there is always a room outside.

When you take your binder off at night,
Listen to the rumble of constellations in your skin
Where every burnt-out star wishes they could rework themselves
To wrap around you in a new shape, one that feels right.

If you must laugh at slurs in fear of repercussion,
Know that the world owes you safety, and they have failed you.

When you press powder into your pores at dawn,
Feel every molecule embrace who you have not become,
Where you have always been your loving reflection
As the vanity counter breathes “I love you” before you’re gone

When your Tinder matches feel empty,
When the cigarette smoke unclogs your tear ducts
When you feel claustrophobic in the dark confines of your closet,
When the words fall flat and you grow tired of explaining yourself, over and over again,

Know that the reflection in your mirror still thinks you are beautiful
And all the stars in the sky still shine just for you
And the world still owes you safety, but they have failed you.
And no matter where you stand, sit or lie,

There will always be room for you here.

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.

 

—————————————————-

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.