Sunday, May 22, 2022


“Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door."

― Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

photo by The British Museum at Unsplash


what fishes?
there are no fishes

the big boys with the nets
have trawled them

and what remains
are miserly opportunities

that are slipping by
slippery beyond grasp

me, i get by
with small fry.

undated. prob. 80's

Found this old piece in an old (read angry) journal, sighed, and let it loose on the internet.

Rosemary at Poets and Storytellers United tells us "to bear witness to these times we are living in, and how it feels to be living in them." I am posting one that is not about these present times but about a certain year, and a rather pivotal one.

The Vietnam War ends with the fall of Saigon. One of the lasting images of the war is that of a helicopter lifting off from the roof of the American Embassy, evacuating. Over in nearby Cambodia, the Communist Khmer Rouge had captured Phnom Penh earlier and begins a genocide of anyone who looks smart. In the space of slightly more than two weeks, US President Gerald Ford survives two assassination attempts by two women wielding handguns, both times in California. Perhaps the girls have been in the sun for too long. Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft and Jaws opens in cinemas, frightening us off the summer beaches. Back home, amendments to the law are made to introduce the mandatory death penalty for some drug trafficking cases, and the Area Licensing Scheme is launched in a bid to control traffic into the city core, the world's first such scheme. And I complete my conscription service in the army. All these in 1975.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2022

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Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Yes, I guess it's interesting, too, to look back and see how we and others were feeling in previous eras. Your 1975 self was pretty cynical by the sound of this. Justifiably so, no doubt (there are always reasons to be cynical, especially when we think they are the whole story). 1975 was an infamous year in Australia: the year of The Dismissal, when Gough Whitlam lost office and conspiracy theories were indeed factual. I haven't looked back at what I was writing then, but I'm sure it was angry stuff too.

23 May, 2022 07:05  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

This is actually an old poem, probably written in the 80's (or the 70's). Yes, I was just out of the military and looking for a job and getting rejections everywhere. The only openings available were the factories and nightclubs (and I have written about working in them). I was cynical then, it wasn't a proud moment in my life, but have not regretted living through it. :)

23 May, 2022 12:01  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Funny that, how later we are glad to have had our experiences.

23 May, 2022 21:20  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

I think for a writer/poet, to have these experiences is to have a vault of valuable material for his/her future projects. :)

23 May, 2022 21:38  
Blogger Helen said...

The art you chose is fantastic! Love it. In 1968, my then husband and father of our four children survived the Tet Offensive, he was a Navy physician stationed in Da Nang. Memories came rushing back as I read your notes. Also, I just finished reading "Why Fish Don't Exist" by Lulu Miller .. the fish art works perfectly with the book! Finally, the poem is perfection.

23 May, 2022 23:27  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Thank you, Helen!
A salute to those who have served in Vietnam.

I have not read this book yet. maybe I should. :)

24 May, 2022 00:10  
Blogger Thotpurge said...

Love everything in this post.. the quote, the poem and the history you gather in your notes. Puts time in perspective.

24 May, 2022 14:18  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Thank you, Rajani!
i like what you said about putting time in perspective. :)

24 May, 2022 15:19  
Blogger Marja said...

Great poem of the fish telling a story. Fish taken by the big companies I guess Not leaving much food. Then the history Well written. Humans are a difficult bunch to say it mildly

26 May, 2022 06:36  
Blogger Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Some days "getting by" is a major accomplishment!

26 May, 2022 10:42  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


yes, I was trying to say we were left with the scraps to take at that time. It was a time of unemployment and uncertainty.
humans certainly are a difficult, and complex bunch. :)

Magical Mystical Teacher,

Certainly! Some days "getting by" is a major feat. :)

26 May, 2022 21:16  
Blogger said...

My husband was in Viet Nam in 1970. After all these years of marriage, I still do not know the stories he keeps inside. Getting by is something.

28 May, 2022 09:09  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Some stories are best not told, perhaps. It was a horrible war.

28 May, 2022 11:28  
Blogger Magaly Guerrero said...

For every day we are stuck, it is wonderful to know (to learn) that there will be days we can get by... and even move ahead.

01 June, 2022 22:55  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Haha, yes. We may not land the large grouper but still have a small anchovy. We will get by. 😁

01 June, 2022 23:37  
Blogger R's Rue said...

I love the quote. Thank you for sharing.

16 June, 2022 23:51  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

R's Rue,

Thank you! :)

17 June, 2022 13:27  

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