Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Cold Song (Henry Purcell)

What power art thou
Who from below
Hast made me rise
Unwillingly and slow
From beds of everlasting snow

See'st thou not how stiff
And wondrous old
Far unfit to bear the bitter cold

I can scarcely move
Or draw my breath
I can scarcely move
Or draw my breath

Let me, let me,
Let me freeze again
Let me, let me
Freeze again to death
Let me, let me, let me
Freeze again to death...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

H. and B.

He slings off the back-pack, sits down on the edge of his bed. Stillness invades his body. Then he bends forward, fingers twisting into the black knots. Like a chemist mindful of danger, he slowly unlaces his boots. Loosened and shaken off, they lie like dormant insults. That he takes hold of the mouths and flings them across the room surprised him only revealed the depth of his bottled-up emotions, a turbid mixture of rage and self-accusation. Something shattered. His eyes remain fixed on the unshifting image in his mind: H. and B., skin slick with the sweat of their midnight run, blissfully ignorant of his presence, a witness to the communion, wary of entering the shower where the company of two were already in the throes of preparation, as if stepping in would be a confession, a risk for which he is yet prepared.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

nth position

Poetry forthcoming in the November issue of nth position.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thy Hand Belinda (Henry Purcell, "Dido & Aeneas")

Performed by the great Jessye Norman. 

Click here.

             Remember me... But forget my fate.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Poetry published in the October edition, which also features poetry from Koh Jee Leong, Yeow Kai Chai and Pooja Nansi.

Monday, September 21, 2009


In my dream I was at sea.
There was a boat, only
I wasn’t on it. I was leading it –

Then the prerequisite
drowning: I woke

to another dream, the nature of which I can’t remember
being now fully awake.

The dream seemed to me a precise translation
of vision hitherto masked
by the skein of the self: the absurdity being both form 
         and revelation.
The absurdity and the fear
anchoring the self to the past, the past a dead thing –

This dream, I made a point of telling it to my mother
dicing meat in the kitchen, making lunch.
It’s her day off; my father’s on his own
at the clinic, prescribing remedies
to those who seek to be cured. 

Was there light? She asks, fingers deft with the knife.

A lamp was shining from the wharf.

Was it bright?

As bright as it could be, being the sole source of illumination.

Was the water calm?

I remember wind on bare skin.

Were you alone?

I was silent; my dream was silent –

Were you alone?

I wasn’t rescued. 
But that was then.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Vita Nova

Gl├╝ck introduces, in a proem of sorts, the theme of transformation that haunts the poems of her collection, published in 1999 (after Meadowlands). In the proem, she writes:

The master said You must write what you see.

But what I see does not move me.

The master answered Change what you see.

I think of Borges, and his essay on blindness: "A writer, or any man, must believe that whatever happens to him is an instrument; everything has been given for an end. This is even stronger in the case of the artist. Everything that happens, including humiliations, embarrassments, misfortunes, all has been given like clay, like material for one's art. One must accept it. For this reason I speak in a poem of the ancient food of the heroes: humiliation, unhappiness, discord. Those things are given to us to transform, so that we may make from the miserable circumstances of our lives things that are eternal, or aspire to be so.

If a blind man thinks this way, he is saved. Blindness is a gift." (Translated by Eliot Weinberger)