Sunday, July 28, 2019


This poem was part of a series or theme I submitted for a nation-wide poetry competition many years back. It was based on actual people and experiences I encountered while living in a part of the city core area in the late 70's, a neighbourhood with a reputation that was not too pleasant at that time.

pencil sketch by dsnake1


jasmine squatted with her friends
at the stair landing,
spiking her cigarette
with heroin,
pushing the white stuff in
with a ear-pick.

jasmine, not yet eighteen,
was pretty, even
in harsh fluorescent lights
but her eyes
spoke with a fury
darker than this night.

soon after her fix,
she would go down these stairs
and hail a taxi
to the cabaret,
to a world of masks
where she works.

you think i wanted this life,
she would ask me
let those lechers touch me?
no, she's in for the money,
where can she go,
not the factories?

it would not feed her family,
her useless junkie boyfriend.
there were always almost tears
in those mascaraed eyes.
that's why she smokes the smack
trying to forget the pain, the shame.

and carrying the weight
of her world on those
rounded shoulders
she stood up,
straightened her skirt
and walked down those grimy stairs

in her stilettos,
in clothes
that were not meant
for her age.

written : 03/09/2006
revised : 15/08/2011
revised : 03/10/2011

to jasmine, wherever she may be.

"And far from flying high in clear blue skies
I'm spiraling down to the hole in the ground where I hide. "

-- Pink Floyd, The Final Cut

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2019

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Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

So sad a portrait....and you are so right - the drugs were taken to try to escape the pain of her life and situation. So many people take that path, which makes life even worse. You have captured her plight so well.

28 July, 2019 23:57  
Blogger C. Sandlin said...

The image and the poem go together so well--the sense of someone younger than the years they carry, those bracelets like cuffs and the crouch prior to taking the weight back on. A sideswipe of a poem that leaves me looking around a little more carefully.

29 July, 2019 01:19  
Blogger Mary said...

A well drawn portrait of such a sad state of being. I am very sorry for her and wonder how she happened to get on this path to nowhere.

29 July, 2019 08:12  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

A sad and vivid portrait. There are too many for whom life offers too few choices.

29 July, 2019 08:36  
Blogger Old Egg said...

I like the way this poem was written with the observer doing just that and not intervening with her life but saddened nevertheless.

29 July, 2019 11:20  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


yes, a sad portrait. life dealt them a bad hand. :(


thank you!
glad you noticed, those bracelets like cuffs. this is one pencil sketch that i am very satisfied with.


true, a sad state of being. some are forced by circumstances, some are lured by promises of easy money. whatever, it is their choice, we were young then, reckless and not so sensible, and we as friends, can only help so much. :(

29 July, 2019 18:27  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


yes, too few choices. 😬


we did try to intervene, but it was not much use.

29 July, 2019 18:40  
Blogger Lori said...

From squatting to standing tall on stilettos. I hope her story is one that she walks away from. I feel sort of hopeful at her strength with such a burden to carry.

29 July, 2019 22:57  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

yes, she is pretty resilient, and street-smart.
Thank you, Lori.

30 July, 2019 16:39  
Blogger Sanaa Rizvi said...

This was difficult to read let alone imagine .. I hope Jasmine makes it through and that her fate changes.

30 July, 2019 20:23  
Anonymous dsnake1 said...

Thank you, Sanaa.
In a country once struggling for survival, people make do with what they have. :(

30 July, 2019 21:56  

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