Sunday, November 29, 2020

21, redux

21. Why 21? Because I spent my 21 up on a dark, rain-soaked hill. No cake, no candles, but still lots of fireworks. Though it was not war, just an exercise, still it was tough luck spending your day like that.

This is a major revision of an earlier poem.

photo by pixzito at pixabay

21, redux

Orion was looking down at us
crouching on this dark hill
as a rain soaked wind
brushed leaves and weeds
we, troopers watched in awe
red tracers probing targets
as the tank guns opened up
flinched & jerked in a frenzied dance
in the brief light of muzzle flashes
pouring 75mm shells into the butte
to explode in showers of mud,
a frosted plate of dark sky
now palely illuminated
as white flares arced
in graceful parabolas
the trees and ridges
frozen in hues of black and green
we clutched our weapons,
the metal of the M16
cold on tired skin
we checked our gear again
magazines knife bullets
a wait for orders
no prep talk
no hands on heart
just an exhale of relief
the crunch of boots on wet gravel
as we trudged down the hill
our shadows gliding on trees
spooked by illum rounds.

27th November 1989
revised 15/02/2006
revised 02/07/2019

U2 - New Year's Day

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2020

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Sunday, November 01, 2020

dark side of the moon #5

life's a drag, sometimes..

photo of Kyoto at night by dsnake1

dark side of the moon #5

there was always talk of downsizing
and now it wasn't just talk

he wondered what his wife was cooking
for dinner, it was not much lately

working on her figure, yoga she said,
was at her friend's playing mahjong

terry the dog drowned in the toilet bowl
just a couple of days back

it was getting thinner, anyway

he wandered mindlessly into the supermarket
the shelves were too much for him

maybe i can get something simple for dinner
just pop it in the microwave?

or not

he shouldn't had turned left into the casino.

ten stories is too high, he thought.
to jump


“The sea is endless when you are in a rowboat.”

― Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2020

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

poetry lesson #3

spare a thought for the one trying to write some poetry...

photo of Sanjo, Kyoto by YunPing

poetry lesson #3

have you been awake and
trying to write poetry
                 at 1 a.m.
and all that is outside
are two drunks bitching?

i am starting to miss my
cigarettes but the doc says
                 65% blocked
those damn arteries, please
don't go messing with them

so i try to sit down with
a pencil and paper or the
                 old computer
trying to feel good, drink,
dream or pretend that i am

William Carlos Williams

or the whatever poet
flavor of the moment
                 it helps
take my word for it
that's how i grind out

beautiful young women with poor fates
loneliness and the pitifully lonely mad
days gone and wasted at godforsaken camps
the comfort and friendship of raintrees
people i know who have come and gone

someone said the butterfly
counts not time but moments
                    is true?
and so is poetry, because we
live for that space in time

some nights soak in sadness
and i plead for the sunrise
                      the sky
has turned a hue of rusty red
a werewolf howls from a block

and there still outside
the two drunks are bitching.

written : 02/09/2020
revised : 08/10/2020

SCANDAL - Departure

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2020

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

a tourist strolling through the Gion district at night

Around this time last year, I was preparing to visit Japan...

photo of a Kyoto bar by YunPing

a tourist strolling through the Gion district at night

A cold autumn wind unexpectedly greets us
blowing from behind as we exit Sanjo Station.

Coming from the river, the chill shakes billboards,
descends on the crowd going to Pontocho Alley.

Even at this hour, 9 p.m., in this slight rain,
from the stations, the main roads, the hotels,
groups of people talking, laughing, taking selfies,
head towards this narrow, wet and dim alley.

Indistinct chatter in many languages, guffaws,
Japanese polite phrases, hang in the air.

Keeping a close eye on any puddles, or any geishas,
lit lanterns on almost every door or eaves,
my friend helpfully points out the lights to me.

Not the ones with names, clan crests, but
only the ones with a red symbol of a bird.

Pausing at one, he says that this is a geisha teahouse,
quaint, but expensive, if you want the experience.

Resuming our walk, the crowd is still not thinning,
slanted light pours out of a bar as a door opens.

The banter of gruff men floats over, phlegm laced.
Under this dark, rainy sky they could be yakuza,
vying for one last fling of greatness.

We are exiting the alley to a busy road, the
x on our maps showing the next train station.

Yearning for the warm beds of our hotel, we
zero in on a takoyaki stall to end the night.


This is an Abecedarian poem. It is a poem that uses all the 26 letters in the alphabet chronologically, each letter starting a new line.

Theme song from anime movie Castle in the Sky - Carrying You

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2020

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Sunday, October 11, 2020

the amulet

we need not walk alone.

photo by DavidZydd at pixabay

the amulet

she asks me, what's this thing around my neck.
it's an amulet, i say, it will protect me.
it protects me from spirits and snakes and small arms.

she works her fingers down my spine, expertly.

it's just a dirty dark metal thing, she says.
she knows all the pressure points on the body.
she kneads those knots, the pain rushes out like a cat.

an Irish saint is in there, don't be rude, i say.
but what's an Irish saint gotta do with you?
oh sweet, can you be generous and give that piece to me?

and then i go out there and stop a bullet tomorrow?

please? she works her fingers again, expertly.
she knows all the pleasure points on the body.
she kneads those knots, my hand reaches out to her waist.


Band-Maid - Choose Me

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2020

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Sunday, October 04, 2020

The Muse

Have you got the feeling that you have gone through this before?

photo by Jake Charles at Unsplash

The Muse

How many days already? The Muse is still missing! I woke up and the pencil is on the floor, and the sheets of paper lurking in the waste basket. Shall I go and file a missing persons report? But the cops will probably ask some awkward questions like where did you lose it, what time was it, and worst of all, describe the lost item.

You don't understand Sir, it is a person. Sort of.
A person, eh, and what does he do?
She helps me write poetry, sir.
She, eh? and they give me a knowing wink. Ah, the literary type, and I can imagine them picturing her, in thick glasses and toting a couple of thick books.
Have you checked the library, probably she's there, and what's her name please?
I think it's Clio, or Erato, or Polyhymnia, she's very vague about that too, and I can see them eyebrows rising just a bit.

And then i think I dropped the bomb by saying that she is not a real person. Not in a physical sense, but very real to me. First they roll their eyes, one poke a finger at me and threaten to lock me up if I don't exit the station by xx seconds.

So what choice do I have but to do my own legwork, poke in at the pub I brought her there a couple of times, that cafe by the beach. Or I can just sit tight and break some pencils and crush some papers. During the World Cup, she thought England was her beloved Greece. Poor thing! She was there at the coffee shop, watching the games on TV, cheering the wrong team. And me like a fool followed her and made some wrong choices at the betting shop.

She will come back to me, I am sure. One fine day when I am threatening the keyboard, she will be back, without a greeting. Sulking, sultry, laughing, murmuring. Always like that. As I am running out of poems, I will welcome her back. No hard feelings.

From an old journal,undated.
Revised somewhat, Sept 2020.

Stereopony - Stand By Me

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2020

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

without you

Love can have a leaf of madness.

photo by andrewhaimerl at pixabay

the garish fluorescence
screaming in bursts of neon
offers no comfort to

he sees colours
in shades of metal grey
he was just looking for

food to calm his hunger
maybe a beer
and then move on.

the night is acrimonious
angry, the tables greasy
who can dine on such

a patchwork of spilt coffee
dried gravy, cigarette scarred tops
the chatter of the diners

becomes a taunt.
if you will just so look
me in the eyes

i would stick this bayonet
in your innards
it was that angry

without you.

Feb 1994

Dire Straits - On Every Street

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2020

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