sparrows

Sorry mom for not writing back
there were sparrows by the
bar I was at

remember the time
we found a baby
on the ground its
feathers fluffy grey
‘may we keep it?’ I said
(I’ve always wanted a pet)
you said yes
so we brought it back

but dad thought no
the bird had to go
we argued and you put me to bed

the next morning
I was yanked out of sleep by
weak squeals as sharp as
hate
breaking a harp sound travels well
and I could just tell
it was from outside—
the stairwell

I asked if you threw it away
you said ‘I wouldn’t do that,
it’s still alive! All I did was put it outside!’

but as you said it you
avoided my eyes
and that was when you taught me to lie

so (,) sorry
I can’t write back now
the sparrows are here
and they look confused

the sun’s back anew
but
the rain’s blurring the view

they never learn
by now they should know
sometimes
love’s behind murder and lies

Advertisements

Dear Santa

Click

 

The dull sound echoed for the umpteenth time that night. He was a slim, lean figure in a dark suit. Crouched over the lock, you could almost mistake him for a rebellious shadow. A trick of the eye.

 

The magnetic device he held in his hand looked futuristic. Indeed, it was futuristic. Handed down from generations it was far beyond any contemporary human technology. Such primitive creatures.

He slowly opened the door without making a sound, and slid into the apartment.

 

It was like the rest of the apartments in the building. Your standard living room, two bedroom flat. Similar to all the other ones he’s visited tonight, this one was decked with festive decorations. The plastic tree stood in the corner, conscious of its own fraud under the eerie lighting of Christmas lights. Laid out on the table was a single stocking.

 

Strange, how some things never change. That said, humans’ stereotypical image of his species were laughable. The fat belly, the red and white costume, the hat. Simpletons. And to naively assume that there was only one of his kind around. How on earth could one Santa do all of that work in one night? But that’s humans for you— even reality had to conform to their arrogance. It’s a pity his species were bound by their own ancient laws to perform this ritual every year, as an act of charity to their gods.

 

He froze. There were sounds coming from one of the bedrooms. Muffled voices. Whispers. Not the in-your-ear-secret whispers of lovers though— this was vicious, like two snakes strangling each other.

 

I don’t have to worry. They can’t hear me. This suit takes care of everything. Traceless.

 

He glanced at the single stocking lying on the dinner table. They haven’t even bothered hanging it up. But it won’t be of much use tonight. He wished it was otherwise.

 

He made his way slowly past the room with the hissing snakes, the voice of his Tutor echoing in his mind.

 

We have no choice. Our rules say that if the kid’s been good, and what he asks for is neither something to be done to someone else (to prevent ill-wishing), or over the annual per-capita budget, we have to deliver. That’s what the gods say.

 

Well, that’s just because they never had to deal with something like this.

 

He opened the door slowly, hoping that it would make a sound. But he knew it wouldn’t. The suit took care of that. He wished the parents next door could hear his footsteps and come to investigate. But the suit took care of that. Even if it didn’t, they would be too busy in their silent jousting.

 

In the room was child 7564. He remembered this number, and the asterisk next to it when he first got sent his List. James. 9 years old. Blonde.

 

The silence emanating from his suit was suffocating. I’m sorry. And he thought of the gods as he plunged a needle filled with heart-stopping fluid into James’ arm. He didn’t even check whether the child was dead. The technology of his species was light years ahead of that of humans.

 

As he left the room, he unfolded a piece of paper, torn from a school scrapbook, and left it in front of the door. Maybe the parents will find time to notice it. He exited the flat, heavy with the silence around him. The door closed.

Click

 

Dear Santa,

 

I’ve been a good boy this year. Mommy and Daddy have been fighting every day and it’s really horrible. Mommy sometimes comes to breakfast with bruises on her face. They never talk and their smiles are weird. I heard them saying nothing will fix this. For this Christmas, can you fix this? If not, can I just die?

 

Love,

James

 

Quite a personal piece based on an unhappy childhood memory. Hope this makes up for the lack of content for the last few days. Like, follow and share to support.

ritual III

 

I stand on this pier
watching in fear the distant green light
blinking, an infant peering
for the first time into this world
the thrill matched only by first love’s
whirling waves impossible to grasp
I try but first only comes once
and the tears- sunken pearls-
fall into the sea that stays
utterly, pathetically the same

 

Day 12 of National Poetry Month’s a poem a day challenge. enjoy, follow and share to support. 

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.

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. 

Hide food in your pockets

There used to be a corner in our playground that we avoided. It was tucked away near an abandoned parking lot, and was marked out by four stones piled side by side like a makeshift box.

The playground itself was just a large open air area behind our residential block where most of us would hang out in the afternoon, when our parents were busy and didn’t want restless kids in the flat. This must have been about nine years ago, and we’ve all fallen out of touch. It happened imperceptibly, like a sand castle slowly crumbling away. I guess part of the reason was because none of us wanted to remind ourselves of what happened in that small corner.

We must have been around eight or nine when it happened. We were playing football really badly (as usual), when one of us noticed a soft meowing coming from the abandoned parking lot. It was a brown kitten, probably no more than a year old, and one of its legs was mashed to a pulp.

We crowded around the quivering mass of fur, curious. We were young children back then, and suffering was something that only existed on the evening news. To have it right in front of us made us feel important.

I guess that’s why none of us told any adult about it. We never agreed to do it, but it happened. It was the first time we had a chance to be responsible about something. To be adults.

We built the makeshift box out of pieces of stones and brick we found nearby, and spent the rest of the afternoon staring at the kitten in silence as if it was a newborn baby. One of us went to fetch some water and we took turns giving it a drink from our cupped hands. It stopped shivering for a while and stared at each of us. I remember feeling scared about looking at it in the eyes, as if it would ratify a contract that I might not be able to fulfil.

Once it finished looking at all of us, we felt bounded to stay longer. By the time one of us broke the vigil the sun was setting, setting a crimson hue over the kitten’s quivering limbs and dulling its contours. Momentarily, it looked eerily painless.

One by one, we left silently. When my parents asked me what we did, I just said ‘we played football and sat around.’ I guess everybody else said similar things.

The next day, we went straight to the corner. I don’t know why we seemed surprised that the kitten was still there— all of us recoiled a little when we saw that it was still alive. It might have been embarrassment at the display of life in front of us. It might have been shame.

But there we were, kneeled around the kitten— it was no longer shivering now. But one of us, I forgot whom, touched it with a stick and its head moved. That was how we knew it was still alive. All of us fished out morsels of food that we stole from breakfast— someone even managed to sneak out a small pack of milk. We never agreed on doing this, but I guess it was the first time that any of us were in love. With responsibility.

So we tried to feed it. It lapped up some of the milk, but didn’t eat anything. We shuffled around, uncomfortable, and tried to bat away the flies that were starting to nest in its mangled leg.

Like the day before, we started to leave, one by one, silently. I was the last. I left before it could look at me again.

That night I dreamt that it ate all the food we left it and we would go back the next day to find it there in the same place, and we would do the same thing again, day after day. I woke up feeling strangely hopeful, because at that age you still believed in dreams.

But we didn’t go back. We met at the playground, and someone suggested that we play football. Everybody agreed, maybe more enthusiastically than usual. At least that’s what I think. Once the ball started rolling, we never looked back.

From that day on we avoided that corner of the playground, and we’d always leave before sunset. I’d like to think that we did it out of shame, but I never asked any of the others. For some reason I still kept hiding food in my pockets till we gradually stopped going to the playground, one by one. I’d like to think the others did the same.

Ice sculptures

Ice Sculptures

 

The water froze today

so I went out into the chilling pinprick

morning

last night’s gale a frozen whisper

ringing in the preserved whimper of

the frost glazed grass

 

I brought out my block of ice and

scratched scratched scratched

with my nice pianist fingers

and sculpted gulping figures

their transparent figures enchanced

by the lifelike hue of blood

 

I wanted to feel my fingers

so I took our letters

and set them alight–

love bruns well I’ve heard

 

the soul cleaving warmth of

ti amo

ti amo

flowed like the melted sculptures to the earth

 

as the last ash lay

in the sea’s embrace

a melted whisper passed

saying beautiful things never last.

The Blobbing Fish.

Oh to be a shadow…

Oh, to be a shadow,

To follow faintly behind

a lean straightjacketed figure

 

To hide all its desires

amongst the mingling crowd

To throw myself onto the sweet green grass

and roll amidst the flowers

To plunge unnoticed into the deep cleavage

of a passing blouse

To be immune to the gavel’s pound

To become as one

with the dark carpet of fellow phantoms

 

And–

To graze past your shadow

in a second you’ll never know

 

Oh, to be a shadow

To be the side of me

that was truly born free.

 

The Blobbing Fish.