Friday, October 21, 2011


This poem was part of a series or theme I submitted for a nation-wide poetry competition a few years back. It was based on actual people and experiences I encountered while living in the Jalan Bukit Merah area, a neighbourhood with a reputation that was not too pleasant at that time.

I am posting this for Thursday Poets Rally Week 54.

image 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.

revised :

Life is the sum of all your choices.

- Albert Camus

to jasmine and serene, and annie and linda, wherever they may be.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2011

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...

love the descriptive and informative words.

cool piece of poetry.

22 October, 2011 01:57  
Blogger Ravenblack said...

I do know of girls like that when I was in secondary school. Your poem reminds me of them, and sadly I don't know what has become of them over the years, I hope they are happier now.

There's a feeling there's something deeper and darker that caused them to be on the path they are on. Afterall, not all girls from poor families, hook up with junkie boyfriends and become streetwalkers. It's not in what they tell you -- it is in details of how they act, the tone of their voice and action, the slight hesitation in their most adult demeanor, the awkwardness despite how comfortable they seem to move in what they wear. And there are indeed those who are just doing it for the material things. This poem is obviously about the former. A sad portrait.

22 October, 2011 08:04  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Cello Strings,

thank you! :)


you're right about not all girls from poor families turning bad. i think that's only a small minority. most will finish schooling, get jobs, get married, and start families. but the social conditions i was describing was pretty complex at that time. our nation was still young and grappling with the problems of housing the people, jobs, and security. there will be people who will drop through the cracks. i think i did paint a sad portrait, but what options do a young school dropout has to provide for a family? furthermore, peer influence is another factor that can nudge them over to the dark side.

i really like your comment, i could write another post with it. thanks so much! :)

22 October, 2011 14:25  
Anonymous jennifaye said...

This is heartbreaking. :( There are many girls out there living in poverty and desperation like Jasmine. Thanks for sharing let other people catch a glimpse of Jasmine.

22 October, 2011 19:55  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

yes, jennifaye, this can be heartbreaking. but i guess what path they chose to take, they would have weighed the options and consequences.

22 October, 2011 21:12  
Blogger ericlow said...

hello. ^_^

23 October, 2011 15:33  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


is this the eric low i had in mind? i guess so! welcome back!

and (assuming i guessed correctly) congrats on your gpa 2009 win. :)

23 October, 2011 22:00  
Blogger ericlow said...

hello, yesyes, its me. was just surfing, thought i say hi, you know that sort of things. hows things?

23 October, 2011 22:23  
Anonymous Traci B said...

Terrific illustration to go with this heartbreak of a poem. The hopelessness and helplessness are clear in Jasmine's comments - she's doing what she thinks she must to survive, but it's killing her soul in the process. This is a strong piece of writing.

24 October, 2011 05:59  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

hi eric, thanks for visiting! okay lah, i guess. still working at a telco. didn't see you blogging much. :)

24 October, 2011 08:08  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Traci,, thanks for your insightful comment. as her friends, we felt helpless too, we can offer only some support & persuade her to stay away from drugs, but she has to help herself.

about the illustration. it's a pencil drawing, and then scanned and digitally coloured. i am satisfied with it too. :)

24 October, 2011 08:25  
Blogger ericlow said...

i live in shanghai now, and they block blogspot, fb, etc here, vpn is slow and laggy, i am lazy blah blah blah. i post stuff once in a while on qq, but i have never been a regular blogger anyways. give me your email, can chat over email.

24 October, 2011 12:10  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

shanghai. working there?

yah, you can mail me at :

24 October, 2011 22:38  
Anonymous The Noiseless Cuckooclock said...


you told a story of girls who misuse their own identity, well, they will learn,

a special perspective, fabulous lines.

26 October, 2011 00:08  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thanks for visiting!

yes, they will. it's the school of hard knocks. :(

26 October, 2011 09:16  

Post a Comment

<< Home