notes from the other side

Do you know
the terror
of waiting for the last straw

as someone turns down
the volume
and the air around

suffocates and you’re
in an invisible tunnel
wondering why people smile

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it smells like its about to snow

its hard to write back

when it smells

like its about to snow

 

the scent of our could haves

and would haves heavy

like tea fumes in your room

 

masking post it notes

your memory mosaic

that we slept below

 

i’m afraid

to let the ink flow

beacuse tears would follow

 

i guess

 

i just want you to smell

the snow

beautiful and cold

 

The Blobbing Fish.

Midnight Prayer

when I close my eyes
to pretend to sleep I see

(I think)

my teak wood table
scuttle and weep
‘free, free, to the forest!’
and it would amble
(with a bit of rust)
amongst the trees and
whisper with the rustling leaves

my books would join in on the fun
covers flapping—a flock of swallows

the moonlight, bored of being pale
(or s’ennuyer, as it would say)
flooded back into the sun
and was welcomed as a son

the coffee complained that it was stale
and amoebaed its way out of the mug
leaving a brown and sluggish trail
on the poor old woolen rug
who, tendrils quivering, curled itself up
muttering things that didn’t matter much
and my soul;

fleeted
to praying priests
(‘they might be pretending’)

orchestras
(‘the players are faking’)

parents
(‘their divorce you regret
mending’)

CDs
(‘autotune’)


back to the room

emptiness

grinding the parched sound
drying
my throat;

and I wake up
run to the fridge
and drink old blood-
red wine
sour cold smooth
and oh so fucking good.

Elegy for a Lamy (fountain pen)

People will chide and whisper
‘it’s just a pen, he can do better’

 

just a pen that
wrote and unwrote
two love stories breathing
life into its letters
histories and
bad poetry

freezed with me in a
foreign park your dark blood
weaving warm words

your magic fountain traced
truths (I hope) and
lies (sometimes)

and now I hold
your broken frame your
blood black like lack of all
colour

and I guess this is the end
of our stories and the one’s
you’ve written; writing

with the next pen feels like
rebound sex but I guess
sooner or later I’ll learn to love
this goddamn Parker

The Blobbing Fish.
A Lamy fountain pen that I had for quite some time died today and I wrote this straight afterwards with a replacement Parker. Weird, but hopefully interesting. 

 

scabs

 

 

I scratch the scabs

crack them open

once twice thrice

to remind myself

how great it hurts

 

there’s no drought—

beneath the dull cracked earth

a red river runs

 

I learnt to like

the lavish rouge so alike

your crimson lips

on a Friday night

 

I learnt to love

the budding rose that grows

slowly from the deathly white

 

I smell it at full bloom

like a wine taster

sniffing swirling

the crude ironic stench of my

aliveness

 

but the glass will never be half full

for the bastard sitting alone at a table for two

 

The Blobbing Fish.

Currently trying to put together a short story collection, which is why the blog’s been so inactive recently. hopefully this will make up for it 🙂 

I hope this is truth

 

 

I hope this is truth

Today very good day. Today I finish map.

Map hang on my wall in my bedroom. Above bed I sleep. Dei to make me look sophisticated. Sophisticated is word that is sophisticated. I found sophisticated in book about vocabulary. Dei to also remind me of past.

I am dik si driver. Read dik si. It is how we name taxi.

I like dei to. Dei to how we name map, I have mine for 10 years. I am dik si driver for 16, from 1997.

Today I take 3 people in my dik si, they help me finish map.

I wait at Admiralty for people every day, usually lot of people at Admiralty. In afternoon 3 people come into my dik si.

Out of 3 people 2 have golden hair. We call golden hair people gwai lo. The third person look local.

I ask them “where do you want to go?” I always ask passenger before they tell me where they want to go. People think I polite, but I do it because if I ask them first, taking them to destination is me do them favour, but if they tell me with me no ask then they order me, which I don’t like.

In past I no take order from anyone. In past I am stock trader have lots of money but eat hang seng zi so, DOW and other stock for breakfast. But everything lost in 1997. Wife, building, money, go away. My parents found me new wife, but I don’t think my lo po really like me. Everything else never come back. Aiya suen la no talk about it. Talk about it make me sad.

In past I travel everywhere. New York, London, Milan, Cape Town, Berlin, Paris, Morocco. But no proof. Never buy anything because working when travel.

This is why I drive dik si, and why I have dei to above bed. I meet many gwai lo when driving dik si and they help me finish map.

Today the local tell me they go to Ocean Park. Maybe he help take gwai lo around.

I ask them “where you two leng nui from?” leng nui mean ‘beautiful girl’, but we use it for stranger too.

“Italy!”

“Montana, USA!”

I was so happy I nearly jump.

“I been to Italy! Florence, Rome, Venezia, Bella bella! Food so good! Pisa tower! O SOLE MIO! Long time ago!”

The gwai lo smiled. They believe easily. But I think what I said is truth.

The local smile as well but in different way. “Hai geh, hai geh”. It mean ‘ok, ok’ but in way that make me think he don’t believe.

But I think what I said is truth. I want them to believe, so I say “I been to Montana too! Many mountains! But no sea like Hong Kong!”

The gwai lo smile again. The meter beep and I sad. It remind me of what this is really about.

“Here is some Post-it note and a pen! Please write something and sign where you are from!”

I hand them Post-it note and pen, and they look surprised, but they write on it. The local looks out of window.

We nearly arrive at Ocean Park. I ask them “Do you like Hong Kong? Like travel?”

“Yes! I really like travelling! I think Hong Kong is a beautiful place!” The gwai lo nod too much. I drive faster.

The meter beep again. We are there. I tell them “Have a nice day” and they smile. I think I said truth.

They leave, they smile too much. I want to tell them I think I said truth, I want to thank them, but they leave and leave me with silent meter.

I drive back home. I could find more passenger and make money but dei to more important.

I come back to my small flat. No need for big flat because only me and my lo po live here. My lo po ask me “Why so early ah lo gong?” I tell her “Today great day I finish map!” She look at me like I am too happy. She follow me to my room as I put Post-its onto dei to. There is already Post-it on Italy but no Post-it on Montana.

Now there is Post-it on everywhere I was in before. Now I have proof and I can believe myself.

My lo po look and say “Aiya sor lo it no matter lah” and hug me. I hope hug is as true as Post-its on dei to.

This is the first time I’ve tried writing like this– hope you like it. Hopefully the chinglish doesn’t get in the way. 

must smile

 

must smile as
i remember stories
of each torn ticket stub

must smile when
remembering is a mist of fading laughter
out of place
like martini in a broken wine-glass
its shards drawing rosebuds
on my lips
one glove slightly ripped
the other lost in Wanderlust

must smile as
the empty bottles sigh like sea shells
telling me what ifs that i try to lock
in an empy box

puzzles

my words are
heavy immobile clumsy
a badly made jigsaw puzzle
with gaps between the pieces
a stumbling silence
waiting to be filled

i’ve hidden some pieces
so well i’ll
never find them
you see i’m scared
of what the picture would tell

in my dreams i break the peace
and piece together seamless threads of words
that flee
the moment they realise the world is real

stop

as i sit here
waiting for the
caffeine kick to hit
listening to the
tick tock of
water dripping and the
body clock
telling the grass on the lawn
to grow to die
telling us when to stop
im bored

bored of being a cog
in the world’s
clock a Minecraft
block in this so called
world
i dream to break free
of this scheme
but cannot cannot
so i can only

I wish this lasts forever

“I wish this lasts forever.” A Japanese man I met seven hours ago said to me as we sat together at an outside restaurant table on the Croatian coast, silently watching the dull crimson of the sunset dissolve into the sea. I knew what he meant.

 

We met by chance on the street, when I was looking for my hostel. Since I had the map reading skills of a run-over possum, I was lost. As I wandered around the district I thought my hostel was in, I saw an Asian man checking out a map. Hoping for some Asian solidarity, I went over and asked if I could borrow his map for a second.

 

“Why yes! Certainly you have permission to use the map” He replied in accented English. As I combed over the map, I saw a circle around the hostel I was supposed to be staying in. Pointing at it, I asked “Are you staying there? That’s my hostel!” “In that case I believe we occupy identical premises!” He said excitedly.

 

For those of you who don’t know, that is what the Asian education system does to people. English grammar and sophisticated vocabulary are grilled into us from the moment of conception. As we are occupied with replicating ourselves into embryonic form, we are bathed in the vibrations of a voice not much different from that of Microsoft Sam, reciting from a script that would have been appropriate in a 19th century Parliamentary debate. Context is thrown out of the window like the afterbirth, and we end up speaking like we’re constantly squinting at an invisible thesaurus.

 

But it gets the job done, I guess.

 

As he led me back to our hostel, he told me a bit about “the story of his life”, and asked whether I wanted to “go on an excursion in the magnificent city” with him. This was just what I hoped for. You see, if I’m travelling with someone else, I’d have someone to blame if things go wrong, and that thought comforted me.

 

After putting down my bags (“That is a substantial bulk!”), we went off to the city.

 

The way into town hugged the glorious Croatian coast of Dubrovnik, and amidst the palm trees waving like dancing Caribbean girls and the sea glistening like a diamond mine, he talked about his “significant other in a foreign country” and how he “discharged himself from his occupation to explore”. Soon we were at the city walls.

 

He gestured towards a hill with what looked like an ancient fortress at the top of it. “I would very much like to ascend that mountain!” He said excitedly. There was a cable car, but it cost 20 euros, so we decided to walk.

 

The mountain itself wasn’t that high— unfortunately, the person who designed the road must have been listening to some hardcore dub-step when drawing the plan for it. Twisted, aimless and never-ending, it was the geographical equivalent of a 10-hour remix of a Justin Bieber song.

 

Since we wanted to get to the top before nightfall, we decided to take a beaten down path that seemed to be a shortcut to the top. It was very steep, but we thought it was worth a shot. And it was a path. Albeit one that ended halfway to the top. What was a narrow path suddenly vanished, leaving a dense wall of thorns in front of us.

 

We looked back and swore in our mother tongues. The path was too steep to walk down on. He looked at me and said “I suspect we shall have to imitate the children!”

 

I was at a temporary loss of words, but his intentions became clear when he sat on the ground and started to slide down the path. Grudgingly, I followed.

 

It was uncomfortable and undignified, but it worked. The sun was about to go down, so we decided to go head into the city centre. We were quite pleased with ourselves until we noticed that everybody was staring at our rear ends.

 

Now I don’t have the greatest ass in the world, and I’m not used to being stared at, so it felt like there were countless laser beams focused upon both of our rear ends, one of which (mine) was self-consciously sweating.

 

We passed a storefront and I looked at our reflections in the glass. No wonder people were staring at us— the ground we slid on must have been quite muddy, so now both of us had what can only be described as broad brushstrokes of brown stains on the back of our jeans. It didn’t help that my jeans were light coloured— it looked as if a drunk Picasso took a mop and dabbed at our asses with reddish-brown paint.

 

Feeling slightly embarrassed, I suggested we go back to the hostel. But he was having none of it. He wanted to go to a boutique shop to ‘procure a memento for his significant other’.

 

Out of all the shops he could have chosen, we ended up in a musky perfume shop. Its overwhelming fumes made me feel giddier than that time when I ended up on the floor in a run-down pub in Budapest after a 3 hour shisha session. But that’s another story.

 

The shopkeeper, a full-built middle aged woman with short, green-streaked hair asked him ‘What are you looking for?’ ‘Oh, just a memento for a… special friend.’

 

To this day, I don’t know why the woman did what she did. Maybe it was because we were two young adult men with brown stains on their jeans shopping in a perfume shop, maybe it was just the way we looked. Her eyes glinted and throwing a knowing glance at me, she said ‘Oh how sweet! A ‘special’ friend’!

 

My first reaction was to wonder if she thought I was the feminine one. If we had to be mistaken as a gay couple, at the very least I wanted to be the manly one in the relationship.

 

My friend didn’t really pick up the hint, and bought a small vial of pale purplish liquid without much fuss. By this point I really wanted to go back to the hostel.

 

But he wanted to go to a nice seafood restaurant, since Dubrovnik was famous for those. That being his last day in Croatia, I didn’t have the heart to say no.

 

Our walk to the port was excruciating. After the shopkeeper’s misunderstanding, each stare became even more penetrating. In retrospect I was probably overreacting. After all, we were two Asians in a part of the world with not many Asian tourists. Compared to the reactions I got in Sarajevo a week later, the odd stare was nothing. People would point at me in the streets as if I was an animal that escaped from the zoo, and more than once some teenagers started doing Gangnam Style at me.

 

But this was before Sarajevo. By the time we got to the restaurant, I was wishing for a massive earthquake so the ground could swallow me up.

 

We sat down and placed our orders. The restaurant was nice— we had an outdoor table with two flickering candles. It was also close to the water’s edge, and the view was breath-taking. More importantly, the staring stopped the moment we sat down. I guess without the tell-tale stain marks and the perfume’s flowery paper bag, we were just two guys having a nice meal by the seaside.

 

My companion gazed at the spreading crimson of the sunset, and with a contented sigh, said ‘I wish this lasts forever.’

 

I thought of the burning stares and uneasy looks we would get on the way back to the hostel. Over the lapping of the waves echoing around the harbour, I said ‘Me too.’