Sunday, March 11, 2018

when the air flames

I was a eleven year old kid when I witnessed my first racial riot. Or rather the aftermath of it. My mother braved all that violence to fetch me from school, travelling a considerable distance by bus and foot.

This was also written for the Golden Point Awards 2015 competition.

ink/pencil sketch by dsnake1

when the air flames over the colour of skin

From my window I watched the flames from the torches lighting up the night air and the Chinese gangsters waving their parangs and staffs, shouting to march to Kampong Glam and the Gasworks, and in that moment, the thrusting, waving blades held more terror than all the spirits of the netherworld.

They would gather and talk later the next day, in the shop houses, the temples, over coffee and cigarettes, of last night’s battles, comparing scars, deep as the schisms of the colour of skin. How many Malays did you slashed last night, or were you chopped at instead? Did you run when the police raised their guns?

Of course I do not understand all these then, the burning cars in the streets, the acrid smoke drifting into our homes, and the eyes of the neighbours, all seething with anger and loathing. Neither my parents could tell me, didn’t great aunt treat her Malay driver like family, do we not miss their kueh when we moved to the city?

The nights have been dark
And our heroes are dead.


"Do not give them a reason!"
-- A Baltimore man, during the 2015 riots, standing between a line of police and angry protesters, trying to quell the aggression.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, March 04, 2018


I wrote this, intending to submit it (and a few others) for the Golden Point Awards 2015, a national writing competition. So I thought I would polish it up a bit, office work took its toll and the deadline breezed by (can you imagine it was three years already?). So yeah, forget it, I will just post it here (and the rest of the lot, if ..) Wonder how it will perform in the competition though. :)

drawing by dsnake1 done with Sketchpad 4.0



When I was a small boy, my father would talk to me in hallowed tones about Dien Bien Phu, showed me from some Chinese magazines, the monochrome prints of tired soldiers, a landscape so scarred by shells it could well be the moon and parachutes in the air like thin black mushrooms. I do not understand why a battlefield in Vietnam could excite him so.


My father had come to South East Asia, looking for their Ellis Islands, their torches bringing them to a new land, as insects attracted to light, growing roots, hear the fledgling politicians pounding their socialist rhetoric, taking sides, staking a claim on an opportunity, building a home from scratch.


In time, i served this new land, i bit a cigarette too, dug foxholes in hills, filled sand-bags just like some French troopers, biting on their Gauloises, in some hell hole in South East Asia. Only difference was, i need not fire a shot in anger, our Anne-Maries, Beatrices and Isabelles were not trampled upon, and died.


Later I retraced my father's words, understood why Dien Bien Phu made him proud of his skin, why we may forgive, but never forget, even among our own creed. And why my parents made sure that their children do have an opportunity that they were denied. In time I understood all these, there was so much learning even in a house without electricity and running water...


bright pressure lamp
moths come in from the night
to die

written 08/04/2007
revised 13/06/2007
revised 25/01/2013

“Not knowing when the dawn will come
I open every door.”

― Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems

And a song if you are thinking of home : CSNY - Our House

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

bread and margarine

somewhere in the horizon, the ocean and the sky meet and annihilate each other...

photo by khfalk at pixabay

bread and margarine

outside, the sun is a melting nuclear blast
it hurts the brain just thinking about it
too tired to make a lunch, just paste
two slices of bread with margarine
and call it that, there is zero
i really want to do, except
thinking of all the regrets
all filling up in a glass jar
so that one day i can toss
it all out and release them
back to the alleys and bell bottoms
and torn jeans where they came from


when you are old
looking through
the dusty stuff
in the shelves
thinking of all
the loves that were

and are

one can never stop
clutching at the
clinging nostalgia
like cold cobwebs
pulling at your face.


"you watch weeds grow and wonder who or which is more unwanted."

-- dsnake1, a point in your life

and a song to tide us over : Traffic - Love

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

River Hongbao 2018

Last evening, my family and I were at the River Hongbao 2018 at the Marina Bay area, Singapore. The event was billed as a "eleven-day extravaganza of lights, sights, and sounds to usher in the Year of the Dog." There were performances and fireworks, but we were mainly there for the thematic lanterns.

Though this is a Chinese festival event, we were heartened to see people of many races attending. There were Malays, Indians, Bangladeshis, Caucasians, in addition to the mainly Chinese crowd.

We took some photos of the event with our smartphones. The quality may not be there, and we have reduced the sizes for faster loading. Hope you can still enjoy it. 

A section of the crowd.

Year of the Dog!


This is a pretty elaborate lantern, as tall as an actual shophouse.

The Wishing Fountain.  People were throwing coins trying to hit the bells attached to the fountain.

All photos by dsnake1 and YunPing

year of the dog

crowds on the Helix Bridge -

on the bay,
lantern lights
city lights.

"you feel you are not alone.
It breathes, it moves with a pulse of our own "

-- dsnake1, The River

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, February 04, 2018

the wind hears us

This was a response to a prompt at Midweek Motif at Poets United. Wind Power. Some response. It was many super moons ago. Better late than never, okay?

vector drawing by illustrade at pixabay

the wind hears us

the night is falling
the wind is coming home
it carries with it
the smoke of burning weeds
from the fields
the sweet scent of a lit cigarette
the shrill squabbling of birds
in the trees coming home to roost
the sergeant's angry yell at a guard
hokkien profanities
the thud of helmets on soil
the clicks of emptying weapons.
a song wafts from a pocket radio
the lady singer crooning
love is a river that won't flow back.

someone says he misses home
the wind hears us, sighs
and nods in agreement.


“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”
William Faulkner

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

teddy bear

There is only so much grief we can take. The rest are kept for other days...

image from pixabay

teddy bear

another year already?
your teddy bear sits
on the dressing table
among the combs and cologne.

today i was at the temple
offering incense to you.
i have not heard your voice
for the past two decades.

the man staring back
from the dark glass
has aged.
you may not know him
as the one you had loved.

a mynah lands on the
aircon unit outside.
looks at me
perhaps to ride the rain
perhaps to see me weep.


This poem featured at Poets United on February 26, 2018.

“...the sun rose each morning to stare into my face with the blank but touching gaze of a lovely retarded child.”

― James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

and a song for the day : Dire Straits - On Every Street

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Haiga inspired by a video game

Last year, I wrote a series of haiga inspired by a video game, Grand Theft Auto V, at my other blog. The images were all screen captures from the game using a game console. It was pretty fun doing the project, sometimes the words just popped out, like right on the screen.

If you look beyond the gore, the bad language (the f*** word is in almost every line) and that you are playing the roles of 3 very psychopathic "heroes", it is a very good game. Perhaps you do not understand what I am talking? Never mind. Enjoy the haiga. ☮

haiga inspired by a video game

the flies have left
the blood has dried on the linoleum

thunderhead over rooftops -
my heart
heavy again.

the end
of another day.
a million murmurs

on the wind your name

shuffling feet
the night shift clocks in

__________ ☢ __________

Click on the image for a larger view.
If you want to see the whole nine yards (12 haiga) click here.

All images by dsnake1 generated by a game console using a game disc and edited by PaintShop Pro software.

"I'm still alive, in case you're wondering."
-- Michael de Santa, one of the protagonist in the game

Grand Theft Auto V is a copyrighted video game developed and published by Rockstar Games.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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