Sunday, July 31, 2016


Some time in the not-too-distant past, 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.

pencil sketch 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.

"Thus having spoke she turned away and though I found no words to say
I stood and watched until I saw her black cloak disappear."

-- Uriah Heep, Lady in Black

Shared on Poetry Pantry #313 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2016

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Blogger Sumana Roy said...

ah, that's a sad this facebook age you might find the person once again...

31 July, 2016 22:14  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

in the end, each of us have our own time and interest to take care off.
i have not tried facebook search yet, not sure what's holding me back. :)

31 July, 2016 22:33  
Anonymous thotpurge said...

I remember it was nice for a while.. especially the letters coming in the mail.. seems like something from another time.

31 July, 2016 22:41  
Blogger Truedessa said...

First, that is a lovely sketch. It is sad you never had a chance to meet face to face. Sometimes there is lost opportunities in life. At least that is what I have been told. Perhaps, you are holding back trying to preserve what was as sometimes a new reality can be unsettling.

31 July, 2016 22:56  
Blogger Sanaa Rizvi said...

Ah the charm of having pen friends and long distance relationships. Such an evocative write.

31 July, 2016 23:06  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


yes, it was something from another time. :)


glad you liked the sketch. :)
perhaps it was a lost opportunity. i won't know. at that time, i thought that there might be more than just friendship involved. and then other distractions came and took over...


thank you!
i wonder in this age of facebook & twitter, are there still pen friends? i think there still are, because it is so personal. :)

31 July, 2016 23:36  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

it is interesting. there was a time before email, when letter writing was the thing to do. i met girls, and we exchanged addresses and it lasted a bit but..all too soon dried up.

now we get no mail unless it is solicitation.

31 July, 2016 23:56  
Blogger p.s. said...

I crazy-love your sketch. Your style is hella awesome. I totally dig your writing too, but that artwork gets me all pumped up, yo.

01 August, 2016 02:06  
Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

So sad you never met in person. For years and years, sending and receiving letters was such a joy. Now it never happens. A loss.

01 August, 2016 04:46  
Blogger Julian said...

I liked your poem, brought back memories of sending and receiving letters, joy in both.

01 August, 2016 05:27  
Blogger Gillena Cox said...

Oh yes the pen pal age, that glorious generation of both penmanship and composition is now in our archives. Thanks for sharing this exqusit write and equally lovely sketch Cheong san

much love...

01 August, 2016 06:27  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Sweetly nostalgic.

01 August, 2016 13:23  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

PS (I can't find a way to say this more privately.) The correct grammar is 'fewer and fewer' rather than 'less and less'. Would it spoil the poem to change it, do you think? For me it detracts from it a little to leave it as it is.

– Yrs truly,
Grammar Police

01 August, 2016 13:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so true about letter writing - there ought to be a movement to bring it all back. We have the time but use it on other things - pen pals often run dry with the ink - perhaps that is what is meant to happen

01 August, 2016 16:48  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


haha! "unless it is solicitation". now, most of my mail are bills, and solicitation. :D
it certainly was a simpler place and time then...


i dig that "yo"!
thank you for the comment! :)


sad in a way to have not met, but we did exchanged photos and first day covers. i just hope she has a good life and is well..


those were simpler times, aren't they? :)


that's right, "that glorious generation of both penmanship and composition is now in our archives."


thank you!
i welcome such suggestions and critique. grammar is not one of my stronger suites. "fewer" would denote 'countable' while "less" may not. i have read through it again, changing "less" to "fewer", and no, i don't think it spoils the poem.
on the contrary, i think that makes the poem a little more perfect. i will go and change the poem later. and another thing, i think it is not right to start a sentence (or a poem ) with a conjunction, but after some thought, i am still sticking to it. i am not too sure now. :)


i liked what you said about "pen pals often run dry with the ink'". i remembered in my time, i practised handwriting in school with a fountain pen. imagine, some of today's children have never seen a pen nib before.
there really is a need to have a movement to bring letter writing back. :)

01 August, 2016 20:55  
Blogger Myrna R. said...

I was never much of a letter writer. Yet, I feel the melancholy in your lovely poem. It must have been so nice to have a pen-pal. It would be great if you found each other again.
BTW - I love your sketch.

01 August, 2016 23:24  
Blogger Jasmin said...

sadly it's the age of eyes glued to screen, just to have one more hand written letter signed, with love.

02 August, 2016 04:16  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


thank you!
to have a pen-pal is an experience in itself. not just the letter writing and composition, and sending of the letters, but also you come to share about their joys and problems. i really won't know what to say or do if we find each other again. :)


the age of eyes glued to screens! they also don't have the time to read through longer compositions! this is the age of short attention spans, of twitter & instagram! :)

02 August, 2016 07:06  
Blogger R.K. Garon said...

Yes, I remember those days; checking the mail box when I was young, and looking for a card with a dollar bill in it from grandparents or when I was older,listening for my name at "mail call". We all have our "Bernadettes"
Enjoyed the read Cheong, as usual.

03 August, 2016 01:33  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

dollar bills in the mail, that's not bad. :)
i guess most of us have our Bernadettes in some parts of our lives.
always glad to see you, friend.

03 August, 2016 20:55  

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