the lake of second beginnings

first, to visit, you have to be lost. second,
there will be no guide, so open your eyes.
the lake before you is just a diversion.
watch out for the lonely boat, beating
itself against the shore. check below
the seat. there, you shall find an oar and
or a map. it doesn’t matter. row through
the tributaries, the ebbing crowds of silt.
don’t stop to rest. that’s how they get you.
beneath, you feel presences stalk you:
rusalkas that remind you of other yous;
the selkie of questions that end with you.
keep rowing. by now you’ve lost the map,
but your arms know where to go, like you
were always meant to go there. soon you
see it: that mirror of the moon, single plain
of glass. arms flail below, unseen weeds.
you shatter the surface with your oars.
they sink without a trace. turn around.
the path you’ve taken is gone, too. you
don’t need those anymore. look around you.
this is the place where all spilled spirits go.
dive in, into the lake of your mother’s womb.
where the only way the world could hurt would
simply be to be: nothing more, nothing less.

singpowrimo 2018 day 1 – the h2o prompt 

The Conjuror’s Closet

“Tomorrow wears yesterday’s face.” – Flavour text from ‘Conjurer’s Closet’, Magic The Gathering

Warily the doors creak as

I am reaching into the ether

again my hands are billowing

in the current of adrenaline and

shivering like kites caught in trees

I am reaching in to bring out magic

trickery (n.) the practice of deception

but can I be cunning while being honest

I ask into the closet doors where the dark

hangs still, I push past the foliage of outfits

my assistant is told to extract the corporeal

form, the wisp of alabaster moving past her

for she is a dancer in the sky and in spotlight air

for she is a dancer in the sky and in spotlight air

the light sieving through her, the light sieving

the gentlemen in the back faint but comes

again and she and I and she all take a bow

and the show ends and soon the applause

resounds dully as if thrown onto wooden

capsule cast chest casket coffin chamber

where we stored our glitter rabbit magic

secrets (n.) age-old practice of deception

but can I be honest about this cunning

the art of reviving the dead for coins

and after I called you out – here I am

reaching out if only to pull you back

like kites caught in shivering trees

and in the rush of the current

my hands billow again, reach

-ing into the ether forever

– before I lock the doors.

Brittle Jade

You bottled message parlor
woman. You crackled knuckle.
You tremulo. I am divining josses
in your will. I am folding you into
a boat. I am paying Father to take
a short trip. To look elsewhere. Oh,

you cloud of jade. You page of
filled out crossroad answers.
You wreath of drawers. You little
wreck of bouquet flowers. I am
drawing you a bath in absentia.
I am letting you out, like a flood.
I am letting you, out like a flood.

Guide to Cleaning

First of all, throw what you don’t need.
Do not recycle – save this poison
from the Earth. No more travel
brochures, guides, photos.
No more newspaper clippings
of dream destinations.
Those only breed silverfish.

Next, make a commitment. Never let
clutter in again. Do not let it stay. Do not
let it set. No more corkboard
of old friendships, notes from a
forgotten era. No more escapist fantasy.
No more dried roses elegy. No more
of last year’s birthday cards, printed
poems, Men’s Health studies. No lies.
No more remembrance. No more polaroids.
Those are only made for you to buy into.

Lastly – stick to it. When you stir in
the dawn: jump, shout – become greater.
The sun is but a cleaning lady, gently
knocking on your windows. Jump. Jump.
Do not let her in. Leave these weights behind.
This mess is but your own to mold.
No more piano in the darkness, ragtime
Fur Elise, single ivory key running away.
No more poems about departures, love
or the loss of it. No more loss. No more loss.
No accompaniment. No thing. No soup spoon
at your parchment table. No taste. No feeling.
No napkin when you’re done.
Those are only there to give;
give the illusion of closure.

The Machine: As it revolves, upon itself


written for Alt Txt – Experimental Poetry workshop, conducted by Desmond Kon
Title taken from Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Sonnets to Orpheus, No.18
14 fixed words (although I guess I should have shifted stanza 1 to make a spine with stanzas 2-4)

Should come back and edit this some day

Following the Last Act


When the curtains fall -that’s it.
Well, everything ends eventually.
So, there isn’t any real meaning to it.
No extended metaphor. The only conceit
is mine. The story just ends, its characters,
presumably, not having learnt any better,
and people may or may not like the ending.
That is OK.

Personally, I’d rather the end be some coherent,
overarching image, one that I can wrap myself with
like a blanket. Something clear-cut and/or
emotional, like calls from telemarketers, so
I know adequately how to react. “Hello is this-
NO, THANK YOU!” Or if these things came with
a bowtie and at least asked for your name first. I guess
I just wanted someone to give me stage instructions,
like: “look shocked!” Or look “absolutely miserable.”
A script to memorise and execute to the letter.

But still some signs swim beneath the skin
and spur me. There is a goldfish in my wrist.
I feel fireflies running down my back like a cape
and the curtain is drawn ad nauseum.
In my chest is a round of applause.
In my eardrum there is a telemarketer,
dialling the same number over and over again.
There are tadpoles in my fingers, toads in my toes and

I feel like I want to dance now.
I feel like I want to dance
even when all the lights are off.
I want to dance like nobody is watching.
But I know you are. You always are.
The fairy sitting on the mantle, here
but not here. You have taken stage front
and centre forever. Every character
has the face of you. You are every
seat in the audience, every line spoken,
every rose thrown, every bow taken –
yet you are no encore.
You are not your own sequel.
The only conceit is mine.

So, thank you.
But I’m going to burn you, this poem –
so make sure you read it.
Read it, for me.

Written for Epilogue Slam 2017



When the holes started popping up so did the epiphanies. Men and women rushing to the mountain, eager to find where they fit. When it showed up on the telly I wanted to switch it off – but there I was, rewinding and rewinding the footage, trying to see if anyone I knew had gone there. I had hoped that they would try going in, like a key in the lock. If I could, I’d push them in myself.

Having spent my life on the path, I learnt one day that I was but a stepping stone, when all this while I thought I was moving.

These holes, they stretch all the way through. One in the hole slowly moves, elongated in all directions. There is no way of turning back. They walk deeper and deeper into the the earth. I sat that night in front of mine, peering into the black. This was my hole. Of all the other holes my size, my heart had decided that this was my own. And so I could not muster the strength to go, nor the strength to leave. So there I lay, imagining myself walking through miles of stone, with no light, no sound, no end to be found. I imagine another me having made it through. What would that me look like?

I sat on a hill in Vietnam, looking into the distance. There, I could glimpse into infinity. Surely somewhere, elsewhere, there is a home I do not see myself in. That is a world of nothing but happy places, a glorious plane, one I cannot and do not belong.

There can be no salvation for me now. No escape, no return. The walls close in, like mothers whispering love. This is the path I had chosen – and now I must die on it. Or worse still – I don’t.