Monday, March 18, 2013

when you rise in the morning,

This poem comes about from observing people. In the rush hour of lunchtime, when the thoughts are on food and finding an empty seat and table, there usually isn't much time for other things though.

An unpublished work, it has been sitting in my hard disk for some time. I think it is still relevant now, as it was then.

photo by yarekol
image from

when you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light
bedok interchange hawker centre, 2008

the man was moving from table to table
trying to sell packets of tissue
paper, 3 packs for a dollar.
He hobbled on one good
left foot, a crutch
under his other
armpit. He
shoes, his bare
foot, toes black and
greasy from the dirt of
the food centre's floor. He
was waved away, largely ignored
by the world, which went on slurping
their noodles, counting their pennies and
whining about the sky high cost of living.

all the while the faded dragon
tattoo on his arm was getting angrier


When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

-- Tecumseh

Shared on Poetry Pantry #142 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2013

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Mary said...

Definitely a poem with relevance for today...too bad about the man, wonder why he doesn't have another job. How many people would really need those tissues!

18 March, 2013 07:10  
Blogger rallentanda said...

Ha..I like the tattoo getting angrier.People are self obsessed with their own problems, never thinking how hard others have it.Your poem was successful in demonstrating this point. Good one.

18 March, 2013 07:46  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

wow. interesting guy you were watching...its not nice to be ignored you matter your lot in life....i would hope he does not get too angry and decide its time to take back...

18 March, 2013 09:17  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


thank you!

he was a handicapped person. selling packets of tissues is a rather common sight here for these people, who otherwise will have no other source of income. it was rumoured that syndicates are also exploiting these people. i don't really see many people buying from them.



in this hectic city, most people have enough problems of their own. :)



sure, it's not nice to be ignored. at least a small gesture and a smile will suffice. he probably took a wrong turn in his life, and..

18 March, 2013 09:34  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

An arresting picture!

18 March, 2013 15:17  
Blogger anthonynorth said...

This needs to be pointed out always. great write.

18 March, 2013 16:31  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


arresting? hmm. :)


thanks! once a while i like to mess with social issues. :)

18 March, 2013 23:16  
Blogger Sabio Lantz said...

Interesting observation.
But the last part, with the dragon tattoo getting angrier, puzzled me.

The poem seem to set up a certain amount of pity for the guy and then makes him seem bitter at the end.

I know this scene all to well -- when I lived in Asia. Does Singapore also use dollars and pennies? Is begging legal -- or must they make the pretense of selling something.

Interesting poem -- thanx.

18 March, 2013 23:55  
Blogger Kim Nelson said...

I see folks like this all over the world, selling tissues, or chicle, beads or knick-knacks. They are doing the only work their societies allow. You give us a sense of that existence here.

18 March, 2013 23:57  
Blogger Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Such a vivid write--you portray his pain and the vacuousness of our society in equal mesasure

19 March, 2013 08:02  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Sabio Lantz,

thank you for the interesting comment. :)

about the last part, i wanted to show his bitterness & anger. not many people were buying from him, most just ignored him. the tattoo suggested he might be a somebody before he was crippled, and he might have problems adjusting to a lower strata of society.

yes, singapore use dollars and cents, and it is illegal to beg here. selling tissues is 'disguised begging', according to the authorities, and therefore illegal. there are help schemes for the underprivileged, but for some reason, some of the elderly and handicapped turned to this activity.


yes, some do not have a choice, with no other skills. :(


thank you! :)

19 March, 2013 23:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much of the dynamics of stratification, vividly described.

I thought the tattoo line was fantastic.

20 March, 2013 11:17  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Jack, thank you. :)

actually, i wanted to remove the last 2 lines, but i left it in to show that the person was not having life easy.

20 March, 2013 22:31  

Post a Comment

<< Home