- Poetry Workshop
A girl in the class raised her hand and asked,
- “Why are your poems so sad?”
I told her that I write happy poems too,
bright, cheerful poems filled with sunshine
and the scent of flowers,
but although the others nodded their heads
the girl grew unconvinced, dissatisfied,
- as if in my words she had detected
- the faint but unmistakeable traces of a lie.
- Indeed the world’s best poems are often sad
their lines infected with darkness or
- at least mild despair, the protagonist grappling
- with some black, perplexing circumstance
and I should have admitted then
that the best poems are also always honest -
in fact they are sad because the world
- is sad and they are honest,
like a sick man who looks into the mirror
- and sees for the first time
- that he might be about to die.
The Buddha on Pulau Ubin
You bike along the last remnants of a dirt trail,
rattling your bones on gravel.
All around you there is birdsong and greenery,
White clouds in a clear blue sky,
And somewhere in the distance a wild dog barks.
Not another human being is in sight.
Then suddenly there is a shrine
And in the shrine the statue of a buddha,
towering well above your head.
Welcome, the Buddha’s voice seems to boom,
I am pleased that you have come!
Giant lips stretch across his face in a clown’s
Impossibly wide and manic grin,
an error of proportions committed by some
inexperienced or underpaid sculptor.
Somehow you imagine that a buddha should be
more sedate, less excited,
but then Pulau Ubin has already begun to die.
Abandoned, even a buddha can grow lonely here,
So lonely that a little madness might
Eventually touch his mind.
"Poetry Workshop" is not about an Ubin workhop, but a previous workshop I had conducted at Cedar Girls Secondary. "The Buddha on Pulau Ubin" still feels unfinished to me; it needs some more work, but I'll come back to it another time.
Incidentally, folks, in case you haven't noticed, in recent times I have grown tired of socio-political blogging. Although I don't plan to give it up completely, it's probably not going to be the main theme of this blog much longer. If the hardcore social/political stuff is what you come here to read, you might be better off visiting other blogs.
Not sure what exactly I'll be writing about here on this blog. I guess it will be more along the lines of personal reflections and thoughts on my own life.