Sunday, October 19, 2014

you are a starfish on a beach

When I was a kid, my mother told me a story about the cops coming for a relative. He had two guns with him. I did not know what he had the guns for. And I did not ask. I did not see him much, perhaps on a few occasions when, after he was out of the slammer, visited my maternal grandfather.

Somehow this little incident inspired the following poem. I have being thinking about the past again. :(

photo by mettem
image from

you are a starfish on a beach

you flick the cigarette butt
the glow arc in the dark
the wet asphalt reflects
the nights's cold lights

you are afraid of the dark
and its wild crouching shadows
and the demons that tears
and tears your heart.

you are glad that it's day
but there are lions waiting
but even the birds sing
but fear does not go away

you are at the end of the alley
the metal in your hand heavy and cold
the sirens wail and wail
the hounds close in on the quarry


you are a starfish on a beach
the sun beating down hard
the quiet creeping of sand
the crush of stepping feet.


You are afraid of everyone. Your nickname is hermit crab.
Come out of you shell, they say.


from "Starfish" by Leah Horlick

I was inspired by the lines from the above poem (and some pretty wild thoughts). This is a prompt from the Bibliomancy Oracle. It can work in criminal ways.

Shared on Poetry Pantry #223 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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Sunday, October 05, 2014

Text in the City

photo by dsnake1

My poem, Rain Trees, Bedok South, has been selected for a collection of local poetry in Text in the City, a campaign about poetry and places in Singapore which will run primarily through a smartphone app. The event is presented by The Arts House and launched on Saturday 4th October 2014.

And, (shudder) hear me read my own poem at their website. Please click on this link to read/hear my poem. :)

I am with some illustrious company. :)

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tampines Bike Park

I am sorry to see it go. This bike park is the only place near my home where we can do off-road riding. So two weeks back I was there to get some long due trail riding when the security told me the park is closing its gates for good in two days time, on the 15th of September. A new town of housing blocks will be built over the land.

In the past years I have regularly gone there to improve my skills in off road cycling. I am still a lousy rider. I have left some skin many times on those gravel and stones. But for those looking for an adrenalin fix (or just for some plain exercise) it is a good place to go. I like the challenge of man and machine against nature.

I am going to miss this place. Cycling in a public park and a trail are different. I will miss the challenge and unpredictability of the latter. So before the place is totally transformed, I took some pictures with my cell phone. The quality is not so good though. Oh yes, it also inspired the haiku (and a tanka, sort of) that accompany the photos. :)

Tampines Bike Park

one of the few trees not zapped by lightning.

the birds return to the tree tops
to gossip.

elephant grass in the sunset

i think of days
in the tall grass with rifles.

the sunset is brief
it could be longer.

and then the croaking of toads.

a much needed rest after a ride

defying physics-
alloy tubes, rubber and leg power
over mud and gravel.

night is falling
all photos by dsnake1

the moon
trapped in those branches
sighs and sleeps


Get out and get some play.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

you laugh and my heart sings

Another haibun. This was inspired by the prompt at Poets United Midweek motif, which was "melody".

Had to dig deep into the memories for this, but once there the writing was easy. :)

photo by Prawny
image from

you laugh and my heart sings

The train platform is crowded, it is the evening rush hour. I am already late for my date. I hope she won't be mad. Coming out of the train, I scan the crowd for a face. We see each other almost immediately. Throwing up a hand, she gives out a laugh, which sounds like a cross between a siren and a cackle. She must be really mad.

"Daddy!", she screams, letting go of her mother's hand, and her little five years old body flies into my arms.

neon soaked street -
a saxophone breathes
into the night


© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

my mother and the moon

Tomorrow will be the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. It used to be a big day in the past, but not anymore now, I guess. So, here's something to celebrate the occasion. Anyway, I have eaten some of the moon cakes. :)

image by dsnake1

my mother and the moon

Mother, whenever I see a full moon, I would be reminded of you. You see, you were like the light on a dark night that guided me. You were the Weaver and dad, the Cowherd, as you so lovingly told us, your children, those folk tales, about the moon and humans and gods and deities. But what I remembered most was, you prayed to the moon. Yes, mother, you prayed to the moon! On every Mid-Autumn's night, you filled a tray with fruits, water caltrops, three cups of tea, bowls of jelly, moon cakes, areca nuts and betel leaves, a box of rouge and a bottle of florida water. These you offered to the Moon Goddess, after you have lighted the candles and joss sticks, to pray for health and safety for the family.

"But mother, the Americans have landed on the moon!", I would say, and you would silence me and beg forgiveness from the goddess for this ignorant son. It has been years since I last eaten those jellies, mother, how I wish I could eat those jellies that you made on Mid-Autumn's day again. They were delicious and sweet. But now, you are up there with the moon too, among the stars, and as I gaze up at the night skies, I miss you, your wisdom, though you know little of letters, your compassion, your faith in us, and I am thankful, knowing you will guide us on in the darkest nights.

full moon
and other lanterns -

mid-autumn's night.

written 12/05/2013
revised 07/09/2014

This is my attempt to translate the Chinese Tang dynasty poet Li Bai's "A Quiet Night Thought".

in front of my bed a patch of moonlight
it seems there is frost on the ground
i lift my head and gaze at the full moon
when i lower it i think of my hometown


The haiku at the end of my poem, I lifted from a previous post in my other blog. :)

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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Sunday, August 24, 2014


Today is the final night of the Chinese 7th Month, otherwise known as the Ghost Month. How very appropriate to post this. :)

image by dsnake1, done with Sketchpad


will the
dark grey skies
turn to a shade
of blood
a shifting wind
bearing anguish
so cold
so freezing
even though
smoking carpet
of burning offerings
glowing embers
at your
bare feet


When hell is not a myth, the fear is real


from “A Glimpse” by Samara Spence

I was inspired by the lines from the above poem (and also an awful dream I once had). This is a prompt from the Bibliomancy Oracle. It can work in bizarre ways.

Shared on Poetry Pantry #125 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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Saturday, August 09, 2014

never fails

It's National Day again. What does it mean to you? And what do you see (as one of the songs asked)? Just another holiday? Or another wretched working day, for some? Do you fly the flag at your home, or do you just feel it in your heart, a certain pride, a joy? That you will not desert her even if she fails?

Happy National Day, my country!

image by dsnake1

never fails

never fails
the eyes wet
the first strains
of the anthem

not for me
not for the F15s
the apaches,
the fireworks

for those
who were here

not here


I wrote this poem a couple of years back. I do not know what's keeping me from publishing it, I just don't feel like doing it then.

“My old man says when it's time to be counted, the important thing is to be man enough to stand up.” 

― Robert A. Heinlein, Between Planets

Shared on Poetry Pantry #213 at Poets United

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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