Sunday, August 25, 2019


This is from an old post but I think it is worth sharing again.

Life throws you to unexpected and strange places, but you will always come home.

photo by dsnake1


what can be seen then
when we have returned
our arms for the night
our backs against
the weathered boards
of our barracks
as we slowly savoured
every wisp of
cigarette smoke
(and some had more
than just tobacco)
our fatigues unbuttoned
boots unlaced,
as we flicked butts
towards the perimeter fence
towards the concertina
that are protecting us
keeping us in

what can be seen then
an evening sky
blushing red
the colour of
muzzle flashes
red tracers
clouds stretched thin
like oily gunsmoke
and a scimitar moon
and then
through the thousands
of kilometres

the faces of
girl friends
& children
for their loves
to return



Tracy Chapman - Stand By Me

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2019

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Sunday, August 18, 2019


Boredom needs a distraction.

pencil sketch by dsnake1

lim chu kang, mid '70's

they said she could floor you with a punch
if you make her just this mad.
so we were expecting her to leap
and somersault over the tables
like some wuxia swordswoman
or slash her way across the coffee shop
an unstoppable medieval amazon.
but she just sits quietly at the counter
looking at us like a wary hawk

we wave for another beer
she saunters over
bottle of cold beer in one hand
bottle opener in another.
she counts out the cash
pops the bottle expertly
we watch her walking back to that counter
her hips too wide for that pair of shorts
have to watch out for her dad though
he is the local triad enforcer

so we just look quietly at this valkyrie
she in her long black hair and tiny t-shirt
measuring her, trying small talk with her
drink our beer eat our carrot cakes
and prawn noodles smoke our cigarettes
sometimes sweating out the night
thick with rumours and gnats
waiting for our night transport
to take us back to the shithole
a couple of clicks away
that is our camp.


To the tough lady (sorry, i missed your name) who manned the counter at that coffee shop near our base at lim chu kang, thanks for the beer and coffee and conversations, wherever you may be.

"I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!”

--John Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2019

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

At the National Gallery Singapore

A few months back, I went to visit the National Gallery Singapore, an art museum located in the Downtown Core of Singapore. Housed in two iconic Singapore buildings, the former Supreme Court Building and City Hall, it oversees the world's largest public collection of modern Singapore and Southeast Asian art, consisting of over 8,000 artworks. It was opened on November 2015.

I went back twice to revisit the artworks, but there is always never enough time to see them all. But that is enough for some of the artworks to inspire me to write some poetry on them. Maybe the next trip will inspire more verses?

I did a series and they are over at my other blog, i write too. I have chosen a few to showcase here.

If you want to see the whole lot, 10 of them, please click here

At the National Gallery Singapore


The Face in Meditation by Abdul Ghani Hamid
photo by dsnake1


silk flowers -

the faces
in the doctor's waiting room.



# 7

Untitled (Grey and Green) by Arthur Yap
photo by dsnake1


this morning, it is sunny and bright
but was it that day in Golgotha?
did the birds chirp from the olive groves?
and children play in sand-dusted streets?
or was it just a mob calling for blood?

revised 03/05/2019



Nude by Ta Ty
photo by dsnake1

wilted roses

wilted roses in a vase

wet tiles
after she has used the bidet

a scent of flowers
after she has left.

May 2019

Why did I visit this museum? Because I was bored and free that day, and there is no admission charge for citizens, and a friend was willing to tag along. I did not go in search for beauty or truth or life's meanings, and instead I found beauty, and the truth hurt because I realised how little I knew of local art. As for life's meanings, I tried to understand why a broad brushstroke was used, why the artist painted only on one colour, or a riot of colours. I stood before the artwork and the painting tried to talk to me. The friend said we should come back another day, and I agreed.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2019

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Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Golden Point Awards 2019

To plunge in or not?

photo by dsnake1

Golden Point Award 2019

Yes, it's back, the biennial Golden Point Awards, Singapore’s premier creative writing competition for Short Story and Poetry in its four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

I am thinking of participating in the English Poetry category. Presently, I am working on five poems, in various stages of editing. They are good poems, I think. City life themed, a bit dark, angry, violence just brewing below the surface before it erupts. There's always uneasiness with these types of works.

The deadline has been extended to 16 August 2019, which is good news for tardy and forgetful people like me.

Update (14/08/2019) : The deadline has been extended to 26 August 2019. Slightly more breathing space.

Update (29/08/2019) : The deadline has breezed by and I am still holding on to the poems. So no entries from me. 😦

Update (14/09/2019) : Feeling a tinge of regret. Should have send in those 5 poems. I think they are pretty good. With titles like these, why not?
- all the road signs
- no one thinks of politics when he is hungry
- nights on a thin mattress, redux
- my father's clothes
- slag
- the old gangster


- Reminder in my smartphone.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2019

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Sunday, August 04, 2019


It takes time, but the stitches will hold...

photo by Bru-nO at pixabay


On the wall of our kitchen hangs a framed cross-stitch artwork. It simply reads "OUR KITCHEN", and beneath the words are child-like pictures of fruits and vegetables. But the stitchings are fine and neat and one cannot count the hours she spent on the aida fabric. She is very perseverant, my missus.

She is also a good seamstress. She fixes up the missing buttons on my shirts, alters my new jeans. She sews dresses and skirts for herself and friends. Her pencil skirts are stunning. She modifies old jeans to make shorts, long before distressed jeans hit the stores. All this on a sewing machine at home.

"Aren't these shorts a bit too short?", I ask one alarmed day. She smiles and says it was not, and she will look good in it, which I cannot argue with that.

Tonight, after work, I pack a dinner home from the coffee shop and rummage in the fridge for a beer. The house is eerily quiet. I light up three joss sticks and place them in the urn on the altar, in front of her memorial tablet. Sometimes I would tell her that living without her is difficult, but I will try.

You see, sometimes in life, you pick the short end of the straw. Like her. Out of the blue a disease, a sickness, which she fought very bravely. The doctors tried to stitch her up as best as they can, but the rogue cells were rampant, and it has been many years since she lost that war.

I stand at the kitchen window, looking down at the parking lots below, at the stragglers going home to their families. I feel a tinge of envy in me, but I smile. A cool wind rushes in from the warm night, caressing my face, holding back the tears that are welling in my eyes…


313 words. Exactly. Semi-autobiographical.

Andy Lau - Thank You For Your Love

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2019

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Sunday, July 28, 2019


This poem was part of a series or theme I submitted for a nation-wide poetry competition many years back. It was based on actual people and experiences I encountered while living in a part of the city core area in the late 70's, a neighbourhood with a reputation that was not too pleasant at that time.

pencil sketch by dsnake1


jasmine squatted with her friends
at the stair landing,
spiking her cigarette
with heroin,
pushing the white stuff in
with a ear-pick.

jasmine, not yet eighteen,
was pretty, even
in harsh fluorescent lights
but her eyes
spoke with a fury
darker than this night.

soon after her fix,
she would go down these stairs
and hail a taxi
to the cabaret,
to a world of masks
where she works.

you think i wanted this life,
she would ask me
let those lechers touch me?
no, she's in for the money,
where can she go,
not the factories?

it would not feed her family,
her useless junkie boyfriend.
there were always almost tears
in those mascaraed eyes.
that's why she smokes the smack
trying to forget the pain, the shame.

and carrying the weight
of her world on those
rounded shoulders
she stood up,
straightened her skirt
and walked down those grimy stairs

in her stilettos,
in clothes
that were not meant
for her age.

written : 03/09/2006
revised : 15/08/2011
revised : 03/10/2011

to jasmine, wherever she may be.

"And far from flying high in clear blue skies
I'm spiraling down to the hole in the ground where I hide. "

-- Pink Floyd, The Final Cut

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2019

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

on his retirement

They told me to give a speech during my retirement party. I said, "you guys didn't read my e-mail meh?"

photo by hotblack at morguefile

on his retirement

"Speech! Speech!", we ask.
He is holding his mug like a trophy.
He nods his head. He is silent.
For all his forty years
In the office
He could not think of anything
About his work to say.

An awkward cough! Applause
Ripple to nothingness.
The office walls close in.
We quickly spread out
The curry puffs,
Fried chicken, kueh and drinks.
"Eat! Eat!" we say.


Emerson Lake and Palmer - Lucky Man

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2019

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