Sunday, April 15, 2018

Another beer

This one was written and submitted for the Golden Point Awards 2007 competition. Now you can see why it didn't impress the judges.

photo by manfredrichter at pixabay

Another beer

the table top was a map
of battle sites or
was it the rings
of an old tree?
the empty bottles
were lined up
like stacks of
brown chimneys.
my friend stubbed
out his cigarette
on the said formica top
chain smoked another
tried to jab a slice
of century egg into
his mouth
all at the same time
and i was thinking i
had had enough
of this shit.
i was leaning back
on the chair
trying very hard
not to fall
when the beer girl
with the tight t-shirt
came over trying to
convince us
to buy another beer.


For the blue-collar slobs like us at that time, the poison of choice was beer. There's nothing like a few friends emptying beer bottles rapidly at a table. :)

“You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but in the very least you need a beer.”

Frank Zappa

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, April 08, 2018

get the cuffs off or throw away the key

Another one for the GPA2015. Depressing, I know, and a poor choice for a competition poem.

digital drawing by dsnake1 using Sketchpad

get the cuffs off or throw away the key

bend & creep

green moss clings
to walls
nutured by rains
phlegm & tears
they bend & creep


you do not even want to hear
what I wanted to say!

the walls
surrendering cracks
they bend & creep
you could hear their
if you try hard enough
the whitewash bleaching
sepia tongues
they bend & creep

grey dust crumble
on trembling fingers

the blackbirds gather in trees silent
even they did not want to quarrel

the air hangs dry
crackling static


has been this way
for years

the taste on tongues still bitter
bend & creep


and I wonder if it takes being broken
open and emptied
to be filled with something new.


from “Thinking Like a Split Melon” by Jamaal May

This poem was inspired by the above lines from the Bibliomancy Oracle and an episode in a relationship. It can work in bitter ways.

And a song for the day : Daryl Hall & John Oates - Screaming Through December

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, April 01, 2018

The Hands of My Father

This is another poem written, but not submitted, for the 2015 Golden Point Award competition. It was inspired by my father, a carpenter and construction worker .

photo by StockSnap at pixabay

The Hands of My Father

And I see my father
When he brings his hands
From lighting a cigarette
I see his calloused hands
That had hammered nails
And sawn wood in the noon sun
His eyes
Like the eyes of a beast
Staring deeply into the dark.
Today, under the light
Of a pressure lamp
He reads the day’s news
The paper all greasy and crumpled
From passing through many hands

And his hands
Like the hands of his ancestors
Who only knew the rough feel of wood
How the grain runs and cracks
How to fashion them to beams, struts,
Pillars, tables and stools
The companionship of measures and
Saws, hammers, planes and chalk lines
Took that cigarette to his lips
Holding it between index and middle
And in that brief moment
In that brief glow of light
I see what love and pride is

And even today after so many years
That he had left us
To join his ancestors,
When someone lights
A cigarette,
Cupping the flame in the palms
I see those leathery hands again.

Written 09/05/2015
Revised 19/11/2016

"as did my forebears before me
in America in Hong Kong
building railroads, harbours
hunched over camp fires,
drinking tea from grimy cups
swopping stories about home
in Canton half a life away."

-- dsnake1, Toolshed

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, March 25, 2018


To all the teachers that had bear with me, stood by me, thank you!

photo by geralt at pixabay


When the form teacher announced that morning that one of our classmates had left us we were not sure of the message, what it really meant. You see, what do primary one kids know about accidents and death? He fell into a well at home last night and that's that. He was a quiet kid, well-mannered, and we may miss him.

Miss Wee went out of the classroom, in between English lessons, a few times, I think, to dry her tears. The mood was somewhat sombre, we were quite well behaved for the rest of the day, even the class bully did not try to lift the skirts of the girls.

Then came the end of school day, and as Miss Wee dismissed us, we came running out to the patch of forest near the school, took out our empty match boxes, threw down our bags and plunged into the tall grasses to catch fighting spiders.

school bell rings -
chalk dust
on the teacher's hair

written 05/10/2016
revised 22/03/2018

"We break rules. We break their hearts. Yet we may not break their spirits." - dsnake1

And if you are thinking of them : Lulu - To Sir With Love

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

a scream in the night

Urgh! Need to haul ass back to work. Just kidding!

photo by ElisaRiva at pixabay

a scream in the night

the cellphone is buzzing
and now lies on the bed
backlit face taunting

i jump at the ring
of phones, cell or otherwise
in the night

it is a habit

it is 2 a.m. it is the time
for ghosts
and howling dogs

it was a very drunk big-fingered
dork looking for
another night owl.

i should have unconditionally given
him some opinion
but i am glad

it wasn't a call to get back
to the office
to some dark street.


And if you can't sleep after that : Supertramp - Crime of the Century.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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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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