Singapura Campur

Singapore Writer’s Festival 2015

Jerrold Yam – fairly uninspiring short pieces. I expected more given his past awards.

Audrey Chin – older in age than most of the poets I see, and from a very different background. I would say there’s a generation and cultural gap, but it was intriguing, and if I were to look at it with an open mind, I’m happy that more of the population is into poetry.

Divya Victor – read out her students’ works, one or two of which were fairly good.

Wong Su Ann – did not enjoy it at all.

Marc Nair – Marc is always stunningly hilarious, entertaining and a delightful presence on the stage. His piece on swimming classes in Singapore sure got everyone in laughter, and his quick piece on The Hero of High Street shows just how instinctively some people write poetry. We write to record down a thought, a sight, an event where others would take a photo or recount it in speech. Putting it into verse draws a picture in words of a specific feeling that is hard to explain otherwise. I hope Marc continues writing.

Joshua Ip – a total surprise. His regular short pieces on pop culture themes were playful, creative and funny. Nice quick reads. His super long and impromptu piece on the other speakers was downright hilarious, whimsical, and the perfect summary to the entire evening. Well done well done.

A Rainy Night | JH

A rainy day, a rainy night,
A new and different poetry crowd sits
in this filled room watching
listening to the poets presenting
explaining reading justifying
their every word written printed

A weekend evening, a Saturday evening,
A new outing crowd sits
dressed up in their black dresses, frilly white blouses,
suave espadrilles, red basecall cap, strappy shoes
smart polo tees, and fancy clothes.
Fancier than I would a ‘geeky’ literary event
Less fancy than a black tie dinner.

A white room, a square room,
New furnishings and new lightning
greets new words and new sounds of the
new generation talking about the old
reminiscing about this country this land
these people who walk run eat work play
write do think remember.

Singapura Campur

When | for the past

We were twenty-year-olds and we went for Tea
and it was fun and it wasn’t something twenty-year-olds did.
We are thirty-year-olds now and we go for Tea
and I wonder if it’s something thirty-year-olds did.
Do you miss your Twenties? Like I miss the not feeling young
yet probably looking terribly so.
Like I miss being thought to be young
yet never feeling like I had enough time of my life left.

We were Twenty-year-olds and they went to clubs
and to parties and we never did.
Never really felt like I missed out on that even now.
We are Thirty-year-olds and they go to more expensive bars
and pubs and drink the more bitter stuff now
yet we never did.
We are Thirty-year-olds now and they zip around on the roads
in their flashy cars, not the poor students anymore but
yet I felt that was freedom.

When | for the past

Crimes | for zera

The ink spreads across the folds of my fingers
smearing into them as if I had just voted.
Perhaps in a way I did,
by picking up the pen, loading it with dark brown ink
to write down words on paper.
Like bullets in the gun of the murderer,
like missiles in the arms of separatists.

We write, truths conjectures dreams landscapes
descriptions narratives, and ideas,
feeding them into the minds of others
changing their souls, just that bit.
Like murderers our hands are stained
with the crimes of our passions.


Happy Birthday Zerá.

Crimes | for zera

For Old Friends

For Old Friends | jh

Sunrise sunset, to rise to bed
A game of life, like a game of thrones
Where time is spent, and words are said

Seasons pass and hairs turn gray
Friends are lost and friends are made

Can’t find an appropriate line to close off the stanza. Not like it’s worth being called a poem anyway, just random words written out without thinking. I’m trying to think back to how I used to write. I guess I spent a fair amount of time doodling over the same few lines while in class or in camp or at home. I’ve left behind much of that past. (Perhaps I shouldn’t be too addicted to other things.)

Not sure why I started watching, and now reading Game of Thrones — perhaps a cursory fascination with the unabased violence and wanton striking off of main characters. Many shows hang on too hard to their main characters, for too long. Anyhow watching tv doesn’t take up much of my attention.

Do you watch Grey’s Anatomy? Season 10 Episode 24 just aired, to round off the season, and the departure of one of the main characters. *spoilers*
She said she felt “unfinished here”. That’s how it almost always feels – there’s that last little bit more to do, there’s something incomplete, something you can do more, do better, and lots of other things. I would want to stay, and also want to go – and it’s impossible to be in both places.

So much of life is like this. To be absurd, I would say “I miss everything”, I miss the now, the past, the yesterday, the just now, the moment that just passed, and the alternative that could’ve been. There’s never enough time to appreciate and savour every moment (the nice ones anyway).

For Old Friends


Some things
Like loaves of bread with clip tags
And a fleeting glance from across the bar.
Maybe she didn’t notice
Or the print was too faint or to small
Tucked away under the wrapper.
First of April it said,
Like some half hearted attempt at a joke.
I guess it couldn’t wait till December
Nor July nor next month.

Did you remember
(That I am still here)


Above [unedited drafts]

They said “God above”
They chanted “Devil below”
And Man in the middle
Trapped by both

They obeyed “God above”
They served “Devil below”
And Man in the middle
Pawns of both

They didn’t know how could they
They but had two eyes and one nose

I no longer remember why I wrote this. 2nd Jan indeed.

Above [unedited drafts]

A conversation | for Jh

Since we aren’t having much of a conversation
I shall talk to myself.
It’s pretty much all that’s left to do nowadays anyway.
(Short of talking to extraterrestrial beings)

I, write
With my pen on paper
Pen on brain
Pen in the air
Pen drawing shapes that merge,
Fuzzily into faces and animals,
And which I rub out with my fingers
Forming people, houses, ideas.
They never quite get there, these forms.
They never quite.
They live and breathe like those broken films
Full of fantastic potential and a rose-tinted view of life
But not having so much life left to breathe.
It’s been awhile now, how my words fade into pictures.
Perhaps I should paint instead of write, write instead of talk.

There’s only a sliver that separates the two sides.
It’s like an elevator : one moment you are at ground level; one moment you are underground; at the 70th floor; in the basement.
I stand there unmoving and the doors open,
There are so many people outside. Close.
Open. There is nobody. Close.
Open. It is so crowded. Close.
Open. It fills up. Close.
Open. It empties. Close.
Open. There is nobody. Close.
Open. There is nobody. Close.
Open. There is nobody. Close.
Open. There is nobody.

A conversation | for Jh