Sunday, March 02, 2014

night takes

In the course of my work, sometimes I am recalled back to the office to attend to some emergency or unreasonable request. Usually these calls come right smack in the middle of the night, and then your next day is totally ruined.

The second stanza of this poem is a complete rewrite from the original. If you want to read the original, it's here.

image from

night takes


When i boarded the taxi the driver
was happy that there is someone
at 2 a.m. to chat with,
and he laughed when i replied
that i was going to work.
On the dashboard was a figurine of
a roly-poly laughing buddha
and when the driver cracked a joke
about the government
the three of us laughed again
in the middle of the night.


Maybe it was the fluorescent lights
the glare cold and efficient
but 3 a.m. is not a good time to work.
You thought a shadow moved
among the racks and cables
when you know you were all alone
so when the phone rang and a voice
at the other end called your name
you looked again at the shadows.


Thank God for 7-Elevens
when you needed a nicotine fix
at 5 a.m. in the morning.
The store clerk looked up
with undisguised disdain
when i stepped in from the warm night,
unruly hair, bloodshot eyes, bad breath.
It was not exactly friendly or inspiring,
even the door chime sounded angry.

written 25/11/2006
revised 28/02/2014

“How did it get so late so soon?”
-- Dr. Seuss

Shared on Poetry Pantry #191 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

I loved you, the taxi driver and the Buddha laughing together at two a.m. Cool!

03 March, 2014 01:30  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

ha. laughing with the roly poly buddha....i hear you...i used to have a job that took me out late at night to handle things...its a blessing and a curse at times...and can def leave you feeling drained...the god of 7-11s....ha....

03 March, 2014 01:35  
Blogger Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

I really like this a bunch--especially your rewrite of the second stanza--so well done!

03 March, 2014 03:12  
Blogger Nataša Dolenc said...

it must be a pain to be called back to work at night.. whereas night shifts for me in the hospital were quite enjoyable, just not three in a row :) it screws up your body...

03 March, 2014 03:31  
Blogger Sumana Roy said...

quite eerie specially when shadows might be lurking somewhere behind...
and it's rather sad when a day is ruined...nicely done Cheong ....

03 March, 2014 03:33  
Blogger Mary said...

These are excellent. I really liked the first one, which gave me a smile. Loved the idea of the roly-poly buddha entering into the conversation!!

Also, the third one is very realistic. The angry door chime was an especially good image to share. I could picture the whole scene.

03 March, 2014 04:16  
Blogger Gabriella said...

I enjoyed your poems, particularly the first one.

03 March, 2014 04:19  
Blogger Kim Nelson said...

You shine bright fluorescence on the life of one working at night. The glare assaults!

03 March, 2014 05:17  
Blogger dsnake1 said...



our taxi drivers (especially the chinese) like to put an amulet atop the dashboard for a safe journey. the buddha i described is quite popular.


yes, working nights can be draining, but the allowances can be quite rewarding. :)


thank you! i had thought the 2nd stanza in the original was the weakest. only recently was i able to rework on it.


oh yes! the hardest part is answering the call. :)
i used to work 12-hours night shifts, the beginning of the cycle is the toughest, but the body's clock will adjust. now i no longer work those shifts, but can be recalled if there is the need. :(


ah, it can get very eerie in this type of situation. :)


thank you! door chimes are a distinctive feature of 7-11 stores, i think. usually the chimes sound cheerful, but not the ones i was describing... :)


thank you!


the glare assualts! :D

03 March, 2014 23:18  
Anonymous ninotaziz said...

Once in a while, the night belongs to the man alone, but not lonely. It can be liberating.

But only once in a while.

Suddenly I remember walking the beach at dawn.

04 March, 2014 01:15  
Blogger M.Z said...

You definitely captured the feeling of stepping into a 7/11 in the middle of the night! A great read!

04 March, 2014 02:33  
Blogger R.K. Garon said...

Sounds like you are indispensable eh!
...and you dispense.
Nice piece. I got the picture.
I would like a Buddha bobble-head next to my St. Christopher :-)

04 March, 2014 11:18  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

thanks for the thoughts for my dad man...appreciated.

04 March, 2014 23:10  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


i like your comment. it's like a poem itself! the men have their reasons for out in the night. it may be for work, for pleasure or evil. the city never sleeps (i sound like a certain bank ad). when i was working the night shifts, the crowds on a late night at 24 hr eateries were amazing.
ah, it has been a long time since i had a walk at the beach at dawn. :)


thank you! sometimes it's quite comforting to see the lights at a 7-11. :)


indispensable? the company doesn't think so, heh! and why do you need a buddha bobble-head for? :D

04 March, 2014 23:47  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

that's the most i can do, Brian. take care!

05 March, 2014 00:00  

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