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

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.

A POEM CELEBRATING SOME THINGS THAT DON’T WORK

Acrostics. Academia. Balancing work, life and a healthy sleep schedule. Breaking up in your head with people you don’t even go out with. Confessing to your first love at the wrong place and time. Denial when you don’t mean it. Even if you do mean it, does that really work? English as second tongue. Editing. First strikes when you don’t have the time to think them through. Fuck as a vulgarity, not a noun. Falling into love at first sight – how cliché. Generosity just because people ask. Honesty when no-one does. I as a singular noun. I as a concept. Just joking, fake philosophy and pseudo-spiritualism. Jamming words together to sieve out poetry. Kafkaesque as a word. Keto. Listing out words and calling it poetry. Laying out scenes and calling it love. Lying about the writing process. Love as an independent variable. Misreading the Tao Te Ching as Dao De Jing. Making an audience hum while sober. Memory loss. Monkdom. Never making the first move. Or just being content with letting things slip. Or just being content with repeating yourself. Orientialism as a concept in the 21st century. Pretending to be woke when you’re still asleep. Puns that no-one appreciates. Puns disguised as poetry. Quokkas. Quips about things no-one cares about. Quantum theory. Running to lose weight. Rote memorisation. Rhymes that don’t rhyme. Lines that ruin your form. Short-term memory loss. Slaying your daddy unironically. Slaying as a concept at all. To be honest about things that you’ve never thought about. Thinking about things that you’ve never thought about. Thinking about people 24/7 that you’ve just met. Thinking. Underestimating when love can strike. Overestimating when it does. Forgetting to keep to form again. Uniqueness as a selling point. ‘Valen’-themed lines because really, how many times do those work? Writing poems to people who will not read them. X starting any word other than xenagogue. You spilling your personal life into groups of 5000 strangers, give or take. Zen Buddhism, but as an aesthetic. Zealotry, but only for self-destruction. Endings without satisfactory closure

spwm day 16

Full Life Plan 1999

Finally, you’ve found me.
No, sorry: I don’t have all the answers.
The ones I do – hoverboards don’t exist.
Yes, you grow even taller. You become
taller than even Father. No, I’m still single.
Yes, you get to buy Power Rangers CDs.
Yes, there’s still Pokémon, and yes,
Ash still hasn’t won the league. I know.
You kept asking me then, with your 20/20
innocence. I obliged – but there are
answers to questions you haven’t asked.
I hold these in the purse of my lips.

For instance:

The secret to success is bitcoin,
but I know you haven’t learnt to add yet.
Truth be told, neither have I.
So you will have to work it out.
You will end up moving 3 times
but forever stay in the North,
your world revolving around the same scenes.
You never learnt to say I love you
enough, the great irony of your namesake
so you keep its reverb in your mouth
until your tongue learns its shape.
No, he doesn’t survive to see your marriage.
Your first and last
suicide attempt happens in 2012,
but you feared dying so you slit your ankle instead.
The scar, shaped like a crescent moon.
And how your future
is so, so bright
in spite of the sum
total of your mistakes.

But I know you haven’t learnt to add.
There’s so much I want to do
but I know every act I take
warps the world ever slightly,
every word a wand,
every line a sentence,
every act an equation.
So, I write this, hide this in your
safest space, between your
childhood’s diary and
the last photo album in history:

to the me of 1999,
rush on, headstrong.
Hurt yourself a few times. Let pain
flower the fruits of love. Taste it.
Let it nourish you, evolve, grow –
multiply. I’ll be waiting for you, you know.

spwm day 5

LOVE GIVES WAY

on the elevator she steps aside,
lets others into the gantries first.
she hasn’t seen a mirror in years:
in the dark, she feels about
her shape, is satisfied with being.
what was her name?
she knew it was a saint’s.
it just had to be.
in the dark she swallows
even without being asked.
she’s used to it –
the familiar samsara
of hiding and regurgitating
clicks in her hands like a rosary.
extinct, creatures re-emerge
from her bosom. she’d lay
eggs if she needed to,
let these children
burrow into her flesh.
because everyone,
everyone needs some hope,
she scribbles on her arm.
how many times? she sleeps
under a shroud of ink.
last week she ordained
the marriage of adam and eve.
tomorrow she’ll turn into
mother teresa
because deep down inside
she craves to be
her second coming.
a bead snaps underfoot.
her mouth is ever shut:
beneath the veneer
of pavement teeth,
a long tongue
coils about
old meat,
never letting up,
never letting go.

spwm18 day 4.

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.

Wish List

First, patience. Second, patience –
but to a reasonable degree. Patience,
such that I may wait, without an inkling
of what you were thinking. Maybe
take a few centimetres off me, so
the distance between us can shrink,
by that inch which seems like a mile.
Perhaps, fingers just a centimeter
shorter, so that our palms could
match – 2 significant figures.
Lastly, a heart that is small,
so I may let nobody else in,
not even by a hair’s breadth.

—-
SPWM Day 2
Published on QLRS

Merely Players

Paralyzed and emotionally stunted,
poet finds solace in unread words.
Sometime tell me it’s wrong to
be. Mad, about everything and
nothing. Sad about something
for sure. If God is real, is this
ataraxis, or bad writing?  Am
I a background character on
this ugly stage? The man in
a tree costume. I feed, off
the bright of these stage
lights. I stand reluctant.
I want to live – I want to
die. I see your message
and I don’t reply. The
sun rises; I turn away
into falling leaves,
denouement, exit
stage left; to no
applause, no
audience,
no no no.