Sunday, April 11, 2021

Lavender Street, early 60's

The name is a misnomer.

pencil sketch by dsnake1

Lavender Street
early 60's

i have no idea where the bus
ends its jouney this side of town
but i know the other end because
it leads me to my school
but every morning in the pre dawn
my father would accompany me
cross the road and wait at the bus stop
for the number 11 bus to arrive.

this is not a reputable piece of town
known for its knife fights and such
so my dad tags along for he is stocky
and muscular so no one would want
to mess with me or the tank,
but he lets me carry my heavy school bag.
i suppose he keeps his hands free,
you know, just in case.

we wait in the semi darkness of the bus shelter
sometimes he lights a cigarette
maybe it is the long wait,
or the wind was right that morning
blowing the smell of decaying logs
from the sawmills and clogged rivers
just behind the rust-eaten metal bus stop.

i would not be thinking of school

i would be thinking about the temple just down the road
a temple with an idol of a wooden horse, life size,
black with soot from the daily incense
its body and neck plastered thick with gold paper
i wonder what the devotees were praying for.

and the bus would come, clunking, wheezing.
my dad would bundle me up the thing
leave without a word or a wave
as he prepares for his work day
and the first sun rays of the day
bursting over the tanks of the gasworks
lights the town with fingers of gold.

written 06/01/2015
revised 27/05/2019

U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2021

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Sunday, April 04, 2021

what is darkness, if not light fleeing?

What is grief, if not love persevering?
-- TV miniseries WandaVision

digital art by dsnake1

what is darkness, if not light fleeing?

What will you say when your heart dies? It grieves, cries,
is not dead, beating, but is dark anyway, do you get that?
Darkness blinds you and dries you to a shriveled husk, and
if nothing else, a razor cut to the wrists, surrendering.
Not a day goes by with darkness, hunting, squeezing, driving
Light, the keeper of compassion, joy and hope, but now
fleeing, until one day it remembers, and burns the darkness.


This is a prompt from SingPoWriMo 2021 for day 2 (our local version of NaPoWriMo).
We are asked to write a poem with a title that takes this form: What is (noun1), if not (noun2) (continuous verb)? [see the preamble] The poem will attempt to answer the question set out by this title. Or not.

I wonder, is there a name for the form of this poem?

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2021

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Sunday, March 28, 2021


When I was a child living in the inner city, my parents or my uncle would take us kids to an amusement park near our home. In the early days before tv or the super malls, these parks were the go-to spots of entertainment for the masses. Besides the usual ferris wheels, carousels, and bumper cars were the game stalls and joget dance halls. There were also the gun stalls where there was always a small crowd watching. Perhaps the sound of splintering glass attracts or they just liked to see a shooter fails.

image by dsnake1



      i wanted to try
      but i have no money
      and the gun was probably
      too heavy
      so i just watched
      as the stall lady
      pulled the lever
      of the air gun
      handed the weapon
      to a shooter
      all the while
      a lit cigarette
      dangling in her mouth
      that inch of ash
      strangely not falling
      and the shooter
      was taking his time
      undecided on his targets
      beer bottles light bulbs
      metal yellow ducks

      up above a full moon
      scattered its light
      on the fairground


      i wanted to get this
      over as soon as possible
      the air was too hot
      the steel helmet too heavy
      so i just watched
      the target in front of me
      a wooden board with
      a poster of a soldier
      and as we shooters
      lay prone in the dust
      eyes peering through gun sights
      the detail sergeant
      on the bullhorn growled
      the order to fire
      and as i pulled back
      the charging handle
      of the M16
      heard the bolt clicked
      i was thinking of
      beer bottles light bulbs
      metal yellow ducks

      up above a blazing sun
      fired its rays
      on the rifle range

written on 28/05/2012
minor edit 25/02/2021

This poem was published here on this blog before. Little eyeballs. Here we go again.

Daryl Hall & John Oates - Screaming Through December

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2021

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

poetry lesson #5

forget OB markers, if you feel like it...

photo by dsnake1

poetry lesson #5
it is a poem

it is about the sunrise
which tosses its gossamer
of flaming crimson that
flares in the early eastern sky

it is about your love
which is a cup of nectar
the liquid spilling off the cusp
the goblet you hold in a weak grasp

it is about the darkness
which is a stone wall of razor wires
which shut out the grey of sad skies
the marble of stone crosses

it is about elusive words
the little abstractions which
roll easily off tongues but we
despaired building like lego bricks

it is the heartbreak of battlefields
it is the insignifant things from A to Z
it is the watching of paint drying
it can be so painful you want to cry

as we toss paper after paper
                 to wastebaskets
till the words become a picture
and it is a poem

written 01/12/2002
revised 07/04/2019

BAND-MAID - Freedom

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2021

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Sunday, March 14, 2021

these trains

riding the trains before smartphones took over the world...

Commonwealth MRT Station, Singapore
photo by dsnake1

these trains

i ride
     these trains
         quiet rage
             looking at tunnel walls
                               dark walls
                    roaring past
separated by a metal door
   reading newspapers
          the previous day's wars
                       football games
          to pass the time
    else i sleep
            holding onto grab poles
                this heaving beast's
     metal belly
as metal wheels
                 on tortured tracks
i am thinking of the wasted day in the office
as departing station
           after station
                   the recorded audio reminding
                  DOORS CLOSING !!
          the time seems
to have stood


     these dark walls
      darkly rage by
      se parated only
      by a metal door

written 13.05.1998
revised 25.02.2021


© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2021

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Sunday, March 07, 2021

dark side of the moon #6

The money in the box seems very little. For someone who has given much.

photo by robenmarie at morguefile

dark side of the moon #6

He is holding the erhu like an uneasy stick insect.
He knows there is not much cash in the old shoe box.
He wonders if he is going to go hungry again tonight.

He is having a reunion dinner with his old parents again.
Zhaojun, my Beauty, you turn your head and look at me!
A wide smile forms on his lips, not seen in many days.

The police are alerted to an old, still busker at the station.

original longish poem : 23/07/2019
revised to a sevenling : 14/10/2020

Notes :
* erhu                  :  a two-stringed bowed musical instrument.
* Wang Zhaojun   :  one of the 4 Great Beauties of China.

* The original poem is very much longer. Changing it to a sevenling form condenses it to a more manageable, compact format with the imagery taking on a more enigmatic hue.

"one shoe in the corner
standing upright
the other laying on its

yes, some lives were made to be

-- Charles Bukowski, it was just a little while ago

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2021

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

old stamps of america

I used to collect stamps. Maybe the first presents I received when I was a kid was a stamp album and some stamps. Later on, I narrowed my focus and collected only American stamps. The good old U.S.A. Don't ask me why. Perhaps the stamps are of a uniform size, making it easy to display in an album. I no longer collect stamps now, but the old albums are still with me.

photo by dsnake1

old stamps of america

i used to chase them down
like a bounty hunter
in decrepit old malls
dimly lit shops

from the elderly man
spreading out his wares
on a plastic sheet at Thieves' Market.

tracked them down
like a bloodhound
then locked them up
in made-in-china albums.

i have them all, the flags,
the battles, the presidents,
air mails, space missions, native arts.

amerika! amerika!
i know more about you
than my own country.
it is a strange hobby.

i could go chase skirts
write poetry, get into trouble
but gone crazy over stamp collecting!

written : early 1990's
revised : dec 2013

Simon & Garfunkel - America

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2021

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