Sunday, November 13, 2016

There must be wars being fought out there

This is a poem that was accepted and published in an online poetry magazine, The Sidewalk's End, a decade back. It was one of the first few poems I submitted for ezines. I am quite fond of this poem, maybe it speaks to me in a certain way.

photo by mzacha at

There must be wars being fought out there

After dinner, we sat on the verandah outside our bunks
smoking, soaking the breeze
watching the day going down over our camp.

The perimeter was just metres away
and through the chain-link fence, the rusted concertina
sometimes we see iguanas, monitors and wild dogs.

Today we saw the snipers on night exercise again
getting down from their unimogs
cradling their night gear & sniping rifles.

We waved at them, they sulked at us,
poor bastards, they are going to feed mosquitoes
and then they were gone, into the jungle, like ghosts.

My buddy leaned off the weathered planks
stretched his limbs like a yoga master
shouted fuck it! & lit another cigarette.

I wasn't sure what pissed him off
maybe the snipers, maybe the insects buzzing around us
or he was just thinking about his run-out date.

As if to offer moral support i said yeah fuck it
leaned back and took another cigarette from him
thinking it will be another humid night again.

The frogs and crickets are up and singing their songs
as the darkness descended over us
like a mailed fist.

I looked past the faint slice of moon
past the constellations, through the light years and
thought surely there must be wars being fought out there.


"What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.
And even if wars didn't keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Shared on Poetry Pantry #328 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2016

Labels: , , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my...this is so well crafted. Enjoyed it!

13 November, 2016 23:58  
Blogger brudberg said...

This is stunning in the sense of how war and boredom goes hand in hand... maybe we battle because we are tired to continue waiting, maybe waiting is the root of war...

14 November, 2016 00:14  
Blogger SuyashJ said...

Well written! Love the vonnegut refrence at the end

14 November, 2016 01:42  
Blogger R.K. Garon said...

Perfect write and well deserved publication. Another Veterans Day. :(

14 November, 2016 04:31  
Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

You paint the scene so clearly, you rook me there. Beautifully written, dsnake.

14 November, 2016 04:33  
Blogger Mary said...

I can see, smell, hear, feel this poem. You have me right in the midst of it...and it feels so very real!
Wonderfully evocative writing.

14 November, 2016 06:00  
Blogger Susan said...

"The frogs and crickets are up and singing their songs
as the darkness descended over us
like a mailed fist."

Clunk. War War everywhere war. Even between people and mosquitos. You take me there into the endless night.

14 November, 2016 11:52  
Blogger Truedessa said...

Your poem tells a story and I think when you are in the thick of it, you might just light up to take the edge off. I think there are more wars out there than we even know.

14 November, 2016 12:16  
Blogger Old Egg said...

You are quite right to be proud of this poem for it is graphic, nostalgic, beautiful and illustrates the scene so well. Much applause!

14 November, 2016 13:30  
Blogger J Cosmo Newbery said...

Our ability to kill each other is growing faster than our realisation that we must live together. It does not bode well...

14 November, 2016 17:30  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


thank you! :)


this is something to think about, waiting is the root of war. perhaps an idle mind is a dangerous mind? :)


yes, i find that quote very appropriate for the theme of this post too. :)


........ (a minute's silence for those fallen) :(


thank you!
glad that it rocked you. :)


thank you! glad that it can invoke most of the senses.
it's easy to write about this because i went through it.


thank you for the lovely comment. yes, even if it seems quiet & peaceful at the moment, there are fights for survival going around the surroundings...


yes, when i was still in there, i smoked because the nicotine does take away some of the boredom and ennui.
talking about the 20th century, i think i cannot find a year without a war. actually, i wrote this wondering if there are other wars in other planets. something like Star Wars.


thank you! it is one of my personal favourites, though the theme is not that really.. nice. :)

J Cosmo,

no, it does not bode well. plus now, weapons of mass destruction in unstable leaders' hands.. :(

14 November, 2016 18:23  
Blogger Sanaa Rizvi said...

Beautifully haunting!!

14 November, 2016 20:56  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thank you, Sanaa! :)

14 November, 2016 22:26  
Blogger hyperCRYPTICal said...

A brilliant slice of life, sad that it is.

"I looked past the faint slice of moon
past the constellations, through the light years and
thought surely there must be wars being fought out there."

I am certain there is life out there and it deeply worries me that you are right. I am sure that you are.

Kind regards
Anna :o]

15 November, 2016 05:34  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

It's a pretty damn good poem, mate! So you should be fond of it, and proud of it too.

15 November, 2016 13:53  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


i am certain there is life out there too (the odds are in favour of it), but maybe it won't be proven in my lifetime.
why are there wars? because of pride, race, religion, food, resources. mainly the need to survive. and this is a very basic need. so if there are other lifeforms out there, they would probably share the same needs as us...

thank you for your lovely comment. :)


a pretty damn good poem, eh? :)

15 November, 2016 18:03  
Blogger Gel said...


I've been reading blogs of old blog friends because I cannot sleep. Of course, I dropped in here. Well crafted and a joy to read your writing, DS.
(Has your FB account been hacked? Sometimes the posts on your page there do not seem like ones you would choose? I am not judging, just wondering?)

Hope you're doing well, my friend

15 November, 2016 18:04  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

hey Gel, great to hear from you!
you are welcome to drop in here anytime.
no, i do not think my FB account has been hacked. i am not very active on fb, and i do not post my poems there (okay, maybe some haiga). so maybe you are looking at another person's facebook? My name on FB is Lawrence Cheong.

i am doing okay. how about you? i hope you and your family are doing well too. :)

15 November, 2016 20:28  
Blogger ashok said...

wonderfully written as usual :)

17 November, 2016 18:58  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thank you, Ashok!
great to hear from you too!

17 November, 2016 23:56  

Post a Comment

<< Home