Thoughtful Brain, Troubled Mind

Tag: Feelings

In dreams, in memory

I dreamt of war quick and fast
Of sanguine faces
And whirlwinds of dust

I pray to thee
Imploring whence does humanity
Gain its infinite glee

To a sickening dismay
As with all other prayers
On that bed I lay

Without an answer I slept
Ruminating in the limpid air
There in the far distance a lady wept

To whose horror! To whose gain!
Are flesh and blood harbingers of pain?

Mayday

This emotion will be unintelligibly, improperly and unjustifiably transcribed. Oh why do I even try! I can no longer figure my way through words; I am undeniably handicapped. These are growing dissatisfactions of which there are no ailments, no solutions! It is a biological disorder; a tumour growing and hurting the insides of my gut, my lungs, my valves, my skull and possibly culminating in the glorious penetration out of my skin—screaming in absolute liberty! Oh why do the bones want more? Is skin not enough?

Under Sirius

On dying moments like these, I wish I was never sensitive to language. Now, I have to convince myself wholly that the subtleties in your voice and intended purposes are a projection—and a shaping—of my own’s from yours.

Under the silver moon, our skins touched but you shy away most genteelly as if this consequence—from what had accumulated before—was unwonted. Your confession began heated, intense, powerful, unequivocal, but crashed like a dandelion’s strength. I saw through hidden figures, of metonymies that came alive, hooking the insides of my pupils, taut.

I wish I was never sensitive to language so that I wouldn’t write pages to you every night: noting my growth, or a lack thereof, sans a full satisfaction. An incompetence would cloud me from proclivities to poetry, and I will be mellow not.

Litanies of plague

some days the sky
is a little
bluer than most

deadens feelings
brings light foretold

clouds are prancing
delightfully
and so we share

maudlin moments

on days when this
sky is but blue

we seem to let
internecine
tear both our
  ligaments

o I observe
more than I should

litany in
a time of plague

whence does morality
get its power—
from religion—
is it natural?
are we guided
or are we pluming mindlessly?

so long as eyes can see and we can breathe
so long lives this, we’re nothing but carefree

They ate the cake while I kept the candle


Humble Abode I
If grandfather was here, everything will be different. Perhaps, more make-believe and a greater satisfaction for food. If cancer was kind to my uncle, everything will be different. Perhaps, less situations to worry about and a greater satisfaction for food. There were conversations needed to be censored, of fury that needed immediate quelling. There was happiness to be found, of joy buried.

Humble Abode II
Dover Road. A homespun aroma of fresh wood and glazed floors. Of displaced books all around. Each apportioned a dying moment of joy, a phase of torture, all to an eternal growth. Curtains that cue privacy, a quasi-hermitage of sorts: for times that impel an imperative stroke of paint on canvas, mixing dark colours with bright ones, reflecting the deliberate mess of what we witness, of what we so unwillingly want. People of the arts! How detestable! Be real! Why can’t they be normal? In the house, there was a visual arts student, a student adept in design, a history graduate soon-to-be, but all men in the army. I was observing more than I should. What manners! Everyone glistened with impure talent. He talked about admiration for Kerry Hill, how his masterpieces made us—both pundits and greenhorns—sway in reverential wonder. It was above all, a climate best for detachments. I will set foot there again, with certainty.

Humble Abode III
Imbibe! We drank Pu Er with over-sweetened pineapple tarts from Johor Bahru, conferring with a mom and daughter about inter-racial marriage, about politics, about relations that are brittle and fading soon, about you and I, about those that made us sigh. She was wise, an archetype of post-suffering. A growth out of grief and utmost torture. 2 years ago, back in Literature classes, I couldn’t quite fathom a notion about death. But now I understand: “death is nothing but a great leveller”. We end up in coffins built in uniform dimensions, of space largely similar. Every man becomes equal. Nothing follows, nothing can be followed. And then we left—with a sweet aftertaste on our tongues, tranquillity ruled yet again.

Tanjong Katong and Upper East Coast

I feel so stockpiled with nostalgia driving through alien roads and witnessing architecture that is off the beaten track in Tanjong Katong and Upper East Coast. A peaceful heart enlarged. Old money goes off aptly, fermenting the air with a royally quiet satisfaction. The people here appear to be slightly different; there are a considerable few with weirdly foreign countenances, so to speak. Peculiar dressings present comfort.

The houses are silent, without pervading terror; roads large and wide, yet not fully. I have always been consumed by an inextinguishable wanderlust hitherto yet am feeling simultaneously unjustified. Simply because I am leaving areas here untouched without sentiment, without memory. I want to stroll in these quaint perimeters anon, filling myself with new notions to write about, making fleeting interactions nothing but golden. 

Of disappearing coffee shops and identity

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

photo by me

I don’t know what Kopi-O means nor coffee’s manifold definitions (in Singapore context, that is)
My grandmother speaks Teochew — a dialect facing a fading relevance
her grandson howbeit lacks the ability to speak it authentically

in the interview they asked me how the Singaporean identity can be established
through Literature

we are young
but we are halfway through murdering a revered generation of Singaporeanness

we don’t know when Tomb-sweeping day is, but they do
what exactly Moon Cake Festival symbolises, but they do
we let go of things we don’t find relevant

my children will never speak Teochew or Hokkien because I don’t
mayhap they’ll ask me what Hokkien is if they were to consume Hokkien Mee
alack then, we’d be part of a generation of disappeared coffee shops and pungent medicated oil

notice their silent cries, the battle against modernism — crushing coke under their strong feet
there’ll be old women collecting scraps of cardboard no more
Fa Gao, Iced Gem Biscuits, Haw Flakes, Wheel Crackers, Pola Snack, Wang Zai biscuits, cheap mint sweets wrapped in translucent crimson wrappers would be here no more

I am, part of a generation that obliterates a revered generation of Singaporeanness;
the edge of a knife that slices the skin, gladly embracing — not blood but — a demonised modernisation

we are young
we are in search of our identity
we asked for it in SG50 and we’ll still do the same when SG100 comes
we’re attempting to find a set of ideals that characterises us as idiosyncratically Singaporeans
Singlish! Singlish! Singlish! they repeat instinctively
but in school, we condemn it
in Kinokuniya however, it seems to me that poetry peppered with Singlish is glorified
(tell me you’re not caught in betwixt clarity and utter mess)
is Singlish then peculiar to Singaporeans?

we are young
all we have are a few rare riots and a broken vernacular we think of as wholly Singaporean

there is no history —
as opposed to the Middle Ages and Romantic Period
no nothing we can feel gravely about
no nothing we can have our heartstrings move violently with fervency and interest

between progression and stagnation, we logically chose the former
we must let go

and so we’re back at the big question:
“What makes us Singaporean?”

we are young

“a novelist is not obliged to write directly about contemporary history, but a novelist who simply disregards the major public events of the moment is generally either a footler or a plain idiot.”

To Orwell: This is to Singapore and to you. Thank you for inspiring this poem — with your essay: “Inside the Whale” — written with profound impetus. Hopefully a new breed of Singaporeans would be discovered, whose language and characteristics would be utilitarian enough to be a hallmark of our identity, worth remembering through Literature.

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