Sunday, November 25, 2012


Long before the internet age, there was this little skill and past-time called letter writing. Words were not a string of zeroes and ones, but were ink on paper, and arrived in envelopes with postmarks. Sometimes, it takes weeks to reach you, which is unthinkable of now. But the joy of it, when you see the letter in the mailbox (a real physical box of metal nailed to a wall)

I had a pen-pal from a neighbouring country. We exchanged letters and first day covers regularly. And then, like all good things, it came to an end. The letters became less and less, a trickle, and finally ceased. I guessed we each had our own needs and priorities to attend to. But it was a great experience while it lasted.

drawing by dsnake1


but it was not to be

i could have taken
a train
to meet you.
we could even have
met halfway
at Kluang
have a coffee
shake hands

but we just write
our letters

and then
other things
and took over our

and the letters
became less


and then

it was not to be.

nov 2011

to bernadette, wherever you may be.

"And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun”

-- Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon

This is for Poetry Pantry Week #125. at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2012

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Blogger Mary said...

Ah, I have had many pen pals in my lifetime too. Also did some exchanging of first-day-of-issues. There was always that joy of finding a letter in the mailbox from another country. Now with instant communication in emails (and blogs) there isn't that same 'high' anymore about communication, I don't think. Sad...but times change. Sorry you lost touch with your friend. I've had pen pals fade away like that too.

25 November, 2012 22:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love this piece... and the Pink Floyd quote is a real nice touch. Thanks!

25 November, 2012 23:15  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

oh man, felt...i had a few friends like that back int he day...i met on vacation or...and they were there for a season and just gone...nice on your art too...

26 November, 2012 00:23  
Anonymous WabiSabi said...

I had a pen pal a long time ago, too.
I love how your poem peters out, like the letters did. Well done!

26 November, 2012 02:26  
Blogger Lolly said...

I feel the sting of the loss in this piece. Forlorn is the first word that comes to mind. Nice work.

P.S. love the P. Floyd quote too.

26 November, 2012 03:47  
Blogger Fireblossom said...

I'd like this much better without the opening "but". beginning a poem with a preposition is a dicey thing, best avoided, imho. I think the whole thing reads more smoothly without it, and makes a nice bookend, then, with your end line.

That aside, this is a nice snapshot of a connection that obviously meant something to you. Thanks for sharing it. There WAS something to be said for correspondence by post.

26 November, 2012 04:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can so empathise with this. It's a funny old world, isn't it. Lovely poem.

26 November, 2012 04:47  
Blogger Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

It is a wonderful thing to remember a pen pal after a long period of time--lovely write!

26 November, 2012 07:17  
Blogger Unknown said...

In my youth I, too, had a pen-pal. It was a wonderful experience through which I learned a lot about a far away place.

26 November, 2012 07:36  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


Thanks for your comments. i guess most of us have experienced the joy of corresponding with pen-pals at some points in our lives. you are right, times change, who can live without email now? nothing beats the personal touch of a letter from a pen pal though.

sadly, we lost touch, but that's how life works sometimes. :)


Thanks for visiting! Pink Floyd is one of my favourite bands. :)


It's always good to hear from you.
my artwork is not too bad, right? :)


Thanks for the visit. i am glad you saw the intended form of the last few lines, as if how the letters become less and less. :)


Thank you. thinking back, there's a sense of regret in not nurturing the relationship, but yes, other things came to occupy the time.


Thank you so much for your feedback. beginning a poem with a preposition is a dicey thing, i agree, but i wanted to open the poem with a feel of having something unfinished. i appreciate you taking the time to pen this comment. :)

now, most of the things that arrive through the post are bills, bank statements and brochures.


it's a funny old world, people bother to write words on paper, lick a stamp, walk to a post box, and trust that the letter will reach its destination. :)

thanks for the visit.


yes, and then you realised, wow, it has been such a long time. :)


i think it's a wonderful experience too. I learned a lot of things about my pen-pals' countries through those correspondences. (before google came along) :")

thanks for the visit!

26 November, 2012 22:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep on working, great job!
Also see my page > Work from home

29 November, 2012 08:07  
Anonymous dsnake1 said...

thanks, anon. :)

29 November, 2012 12:20  
Anonymous Ravenblack said...

This can be how it is even in the age of emails and facebook. I think the difference is that we are swamped rather than a trickle to a quiet.

It was a wonderful thing to receive something in an envelope -- the anticipation, reading the words written by the person's own hand. :) I didn't have a pen pal but used to write to my classmates from primary school, but the last was when I entered Poly.

Enjoyed reading your poem, dsnake. :)

30 November, 2012 09:12  
Anonymous dsnake1 said...

i think in this age, we are swamped with information overload. how many emails sit in your in-box every day when you fire up the workstation? yes, in this age too, i think it still can be done, there should be people communicating this way. but it's always great to see handwritten lines, how the words flow and slant, the handwriting maybe telling something about the writer.

Thanks, Liz, for your insightful comments. :)

30 November, 2012 23:00  

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