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.


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

13 Superstitions for a Damsel in Distress

On the backstreet home, watch out for black
cats stalking your footsteps. Don’t step in
puddles with your high-heeled horseshoes:
the clack draws all sorts of bad folk. Knock
on wooden doors along the way – let them
know you are there, once, or twice:
unexpected deaths come in threes.
Ring every bell – let chimes cover you,
light the path home, keep watch.
Needless to say, avoid the ladders.
They take you nowhere useful enough,
except upwards. Pennies on roads
are only shiny traps – they are not worth it.
Likewise, check both ways when you cross
your fingers, or your reflection in street
windows. Shatter them if necessary.
Take a photo if you must, to save your soul.
Let the itch of your palm be a prayer that you’re home.
Salt the door. Let relief open like an umbrella.

spwm day 13


I am the first to awaken the first pod to crack open I am the unfortunate accident 90 years too early I am the lonely man the first man the first man to walk 90 years too early I am a system malfunction of a man I am the ship and its pods and the cracking I am silent I am cruise through asteroid belt I am in isolation malfunction in space isolated I am despondent I am an engineer engineering the fastest route to Nirvana 90 years too early I am the hammer cracking you open Aurora I am smitten I am reviving you I am revival I am sperm egg zygote I am your malfunction lonely man unfortunate accident 90 years too early I am devastated lying Scheffler in a pod floating through space I am the place/space in space/race only man in this space/race unfortunate I am prepared to die with or without you I am dying 90 years too early I am being written into your book covers closing like pod doors like millenniums like Buddha’s palms I am the We in the contrived ending I am sperm egg zygote Homestead and Avalon 90 years too early I am hammer glass shatter penetration penetration I am devastated in a pod floating through revival I am an engineer engineering Nirvana dying lying through space 90 years too early malfunction sperm smitten written malfunction unfortunate Aurora unfortunate revival 90 years too early Aurora Aurora Aurora

spwm day 6
For context:…/chris-pratt-jennifer-lawrenc…/

How to Fulfil a Prompt (poem for SPWM 2016)

There are little Aprils remaining on this Earth.
These childish, dark months are diamonds.
Yet like this long ramble not worth a kopi-o.
Dr’s Chee’s wife likes to go for strolls outside.
家里aircon 坏 liao, she said dripping Niagara Falls.
They couldn’t repair it, money was very tight.
And to witness poets write nonsense, Desmond replied.
What can we do with infinity? Alvin asked.
He contemplates giving himself another bonus.
Write poetry, he continued, talking to himself.
It’s the endless by-election, Dr Chee’s wife said.
The clean wholesome historic Murali Chee-BYE.
Another clash of national colours, I replied.
Like another April, fighting words flying verily fuckingly.
Except the trains break down again, travel in loops.
Like in this poem, I am not Valen, I am Persona.
Not the video game, I am a woman named Persona.
The loop isn’t a Mobius stripper but a harlot rollercoaster.
In any case the poem just keeps continuing.
There doesn’t appear to be an end for these people.
But it’s always interesting, Desmond said, Facebook emoticons.
It’s as if we forced ourselves into boxes for silly bonuses.
Now is the time, to wear the collar with the ‘poet’ dog tag.
Stick out your paw, if only to write mediocre poems again.
And you’re fine with it? Alvin asked.
まあ!気持ち!気持ち! Dr Chee’s Wife exclaimed.
It was always a fetish to write poetry online.
To join in the daisy chain of MRT date poet memes.
It was hip and happening and in-ter-llect-leck-ual.
Until these young folk reaffirmed their existence.
I saw her reading once, at the Symphony Theatre.
I saw she loved SingPoWriMo, the purple one.
She loves Eeeee Eee Eeee by some Tao Lin.
She loves anything with a made-up title.
I saw that she loves the green version also.
I was a bit off my rocker that opera night.
I thought I saw Pooja performing the opera.
Or was it Joel, mixing some getai and Taylor Swift?
It’s some remix for sure, clarinets, a rush-hour symphony.
Feels like a fresh breeze in our poem’s moratorium.
Its empty sound that is beyond mortal comprehension.
She raised her hand; sliced the opera in twain.
Like you would when you cross the street, a child.
From her bag she brings out her book: Ethos.
Or at least, I think it’s a chapter by Aristotle.
She does not have small hands, so she blocks it.
She needs to re-read it, like a JC mugger.
She reads the papers for politics, but never poetry.
Today is the paper of never moving forward.
Today is the day for ‘We Are Majulah’ to berhenti again.
Today Murali pays for his speech drawn as a mural.
It depicts the epic of town upgrades, and poetic license.
It depicts the Eden of some rehashed town council.
Murali pledges for the past to be buried again.
Buried in whatever substance parliament chooses this week.
I wish he would tell us of love, life, something I care about.
I know nothing of politics except these silly words.
Especially as I reach the end, content running dry.
Content running dry, like an inkwell after April.
I lie, I use pencil and tablet, Certificate of Screenshot iphone.
Someone’s already monopolized inspiration, made anthologies.
Ruth Tang EP mixtape not-yet-played on radio.
Some wuxia epic that throws me back to 1988.
Alvin holds on to his books, unbirthed and unborn.
Desmond rolls in his bed, a make-shift grave.
Writers are really no different from poems they write.
They do not sleep, they do not sleep, they do not.
Now I just want everyone to take a dip together.
Into where everything is black and unforeseeable.
Friends and fellows, this is how to fulfil a prompt.
How to fill a life.