this poem is not about you, but that’s up to you

Photo by Ron McClenny on Unsplash

I start off every poem by changing

the font to Hoefler. Makes me feel

a bit more … dignified …

as though I have earned my right to say

dear world I am a confessional poet

when I never really do fess up

and do I really write any poetry

and this too is another attempt.

I want you to imagine the ellipses

as pauses in my typing. Maybe

you could picture this:

I’m … cracking a knuckle …

or two… staring out the window.

Which knuckle is up to you.

Which window too …

Got it? Great. Video by text.

Anyway …

I wanted to tell you that I love you.

Wasn’t any big secret really.

Let’s just say … I would

let you decide

what paint we’d use …

or which leg to cut first if I were caught in a bear trap.

at the height of my fever

I imagined you down at the pound

picking out a stray mutt

and robbing me of part of my affection…

And in another breath I want to tell you I don’t.

Maybe this is the world’s ugliest dog.

Maybe you cut both legs and I die of blood loss.

Maybe this is desperation

pulling … me by the … wrist

like I’m a dart. Is this love?

Most of my life I imagined it

as the inertia of fucking

spilling over into society

because it sure never happened to me now did it homeboy

and maybe it’s a feedback loop

of negative energy … and I’m wrestling

myself in a cage match … I’m working

myself into a chokehold …

… if I were to see you tomorrow

I would have no idea what to say.

ode to first strikes

oh, monday morning,
you gave me no warning
of what was to be: the unlikely story,
here we are, orbiting outside space
of closed bar, between us a bridge,
both of us victims of some violence:
you, the first stone cast, the queen
dethroned, me, the first to leave,
a nomad in this empty echo.
you look the same as in my head.
my hands latch onto your Viceroys,
finger smoke for the first time.
the first time I’ve held a lit cigarette
like a lifeline to shore, your smoke
trails dragging me into revised
histories. I spill my glass of beans,
fill you in on my first rebellion.
I burn myself on one, so I light
another, a torch to guide the way
into your night, the years you’ve
spent alone, compared to my
six years of dragging feet
like a long-drawn narrative &
you told me I should have
acted faster, even if I wasn’t.
we cried together and I set
my stone in the river. it sinks.
subsequently, another revival,
toeing two lines, reaching out
to another. after all these years of my cowardice,
you struck first. it was all good. let’s get shitfaced.

spwm day 8 

Fear Of Your Empty Beer Glass

Once, you asked me
what I would want for myself;
I answered as you would have wanted,
i.e. mark of a man, a six-pack, job
that pays good money etc. 5Cs
and COE, a happy family. Another
time you asked me ridiculous koans:
what is the sound of two butts farting. If
a NSman shits in camo does anyone see it.
Infantile and tasteless, but very you.
You probably don’t remember that.
But I do, more than I should – I do
remember the days when you would
curse at late hours of the night, asking
to quit. Asking yourself was it right to
have picked up this job in one hand and
these burdens in another – sickened
uncles, greedy half-siblings, the beer gut.
Bosses. Weight gain and hair loss.
These are things you came to love,
despite your reluctance. Nights alone
at the bar, then sleeping in on Saturdays.
Kopi O. Coffee Black – like kopi but whiter.
Paternal pragmatism. Marvel movie marathons
at 4 in the morning. You would have been 50 that
night. So many questions you have not asked and I
have not answered. Will they mix your ashes in the
martini at Clarke Quay? Or Ann Siang Hill?
Or should I honour your life with Guinness
Gao Black Dog Graveyard sipped through a straw?
Should I buy the lots next to Mum’s en bloc
or should I merge the two a la corporate downsizing?
Does the company know? Will they replace you?
Should I arrange for prayers? Do you even
want prayers? How many half brothers do you
want to show up, their hands pawing over your chest
as though to find their missing sorrow?
Do you know that I have forgiven you?
Do I need to show it? Do you remember?
Have you ever forgiven yourself?
When I think of you, mysterious man,
surely, the answer, in truly your style,
is the same: “no, no, no –
it is enough.”

Prompt for SPWM Day 4. Answering prompts from Day 1 – 4 at once.