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Hi, and welcome! (Scroll past this post if you’re looking for the updates :))

This is my new thought and fiction diary! Here I’m going to be posting whatever comes to mind, experimenting with whatever I feel like at the time. There will be a lot of first drafts coming through here, but the quality of stuff should reach at least a decent standard. The first post (‘#1: for the sake of flow’) is actually an example of experimentation gone very badly, but you know what? Next time it’ll be better, and that’s the point of this secondary blog!

My previous blog is at ChasjngDreams, a blog that’s taken more of the spin of personal thoughts and rants. If you like what you read here, maybe you’d like the writer behind all of this too!

Hope you enjoy!

– j. NG

202: Cart

I’ll explain the context of this later, after the poem. I’m trying to add to my collection of poetry about Hong Kong, but I know that I could have given the context of this poem and inserted it into the actual text far better than I currently have. I’ll make edits later, but I wanted to post the first draft of this here, especially since I haven’t been posting as much!

Cart

Underneath me the sweet paved roads
Make me giggle as I massage their backs.
The sidewalks are too ragged and there
are too many shoes that squeak
“Watch out!” as I pass by, so we stroll together
on sweet paved roads.

We never travel alone – our companions
that leave us behind are sleek silver things;
in front they charge with emblems of three pointed stars,
or propeller blades like shields, a V on a W,
a roaring, bucking horse or simply: Porsche.
They leave us behind with the gentle nod
of an engine’s roar.

The lights are kind too. Always clicking.
Flashing stop. Take care. Go now. Be safe.
The wind delights in fanning us just like
how the sun lights our way. She curves over.
Her back like the top of a car, bent like a bridge.
She brings the passengers. I carry them.
I am rusty and my wheels sometimes stop.
But it is she who needs repair.

Her body is wrinkled like the inside of a
peeled grapefruit. Her paint has peeled to
the skeleton of rust, brown and red. Headlights
twinkle every now and then. A leak. No horn,
no complaint, unlike those who chill inside
of the friends who rush on by.
She loads our passengers up till
we overflow.

Sometimes she leaves me in places, no leash.
Nobody will tow me. Sometimes I am rewarded
with kicks if I fall over, but she keeps me well.
All over town I carry but am cared for.
Lights. Roads. Friends, rushing on by.
But all the time I wonder how it is that it is
she who is invisible, and not I.

Context:

Hong Kong has an absolutely wonderful welfare system. While there are hundreds of pictures of people living in what we call ‘cage homes’, outside of these homes there is the feeling of public service, in parks, in cleanliness, in government subsidised facilities the poor feel more at ease with their lot in life. Yes, there is something insidious about this.

We also provide jobs. Jobs to keep our streets clean, and the most commonly seen street cleaners is the seventy or so old woman. Even worse are the cart-pushers, with stacks and stacks of boxes and cans, taking recyclable materials to recycling yards to earn measly four or five Hong Kong dollars at a time (less than a dollar US). Just type in “hong kong old lady pushing cart” into Google to see some examples of this.

What makes me even sadder however is how infrequently Hong Kong people notice these ladies. They’ve essentially been shoved off-sidewalks due to the high population density of Hong Kong, and drivers hate having to wait behind these elderly women. From time to time there’ll be a Facebook status update about how someone’s helped them out and how horrible it is, but otherwise very quickly these women fall into obscurity. We’re very ‘fight for our own future’ in Hong Kong, which is something that’s OK to be. Still. We look at the carts more than we do the women. That bugs me.

Anyway, like I said, this is just the draft of a poem, a poem that I want to include the above context on. I’ll figure out a way to do that.

-j. NG

201: The Question

The Question

Do not ponder the question;
the answer will elude you.
Questions that are never to resound
like bells in clean air
are instead whispered
in dark places.
Do not ponder the question
when the answer will elude you.

Will you, will you, will you – what?
It rocks back and forth
an uncertain canoe upon calm waters.
Back and forth the oars go opposite –
circles spun, and the ripples exhale.
Do not ponder the question.
The answer will elude you.

Does she make you a saint among men
or make you zealous for her praise?
Does calm come in the midst of calamity,
Or laughter in the drumming of passion,
With melody in silence,
coolness in her furnacey breath?
Is her touch the fingerprint of scent
that is never forgotten like morning dew
the crisp first winter snowfall
the first kiss?

The answer will elude you.
Do not ponder the question –
Let calm come in calamity.
The answer is known in dark places.

-j. NG

200: Expenses – a Pantoum (and an update to Millenials [incomplete])

I actually thought that I would update my 200th post with a celebratory update of a previous poem, Millenials, especially since I wanted to give the language a new flair and to give the poem some more depth. I’ll post what I have so far on that poem but to be honest, right now I’m quite enjoying this exploration of form. The book goes to the ‘Sestina’ next but it seems rather complicated, I admit I didn’t really get it. Anyway. I moved onto Pantoum’s, and I don’t know whether it’s my mood these days or what, but here’s my first trial of a Pantoum. Just like the previous Villanelle, I wrote this in about.. 15-20 minutes. As I get more used to the forms, I’m sure I’ll spend more time really putting some spunkiness into the language.

Expenses – a Pantoum

It begins with a paycheck, of few figures.
Crippled from bottom up, the mandatory.
Draining like a bottle of few litres.
Crossed out ledgers tell a story.

Crippled from the bottom up, the mandatory.
Rent, hot water, flickering electricity.
Crossed out ledgers tell a story.
He wanted a wife. Wasn’t she pretty.

Rent, hot water, flickering electricity.
Left him with a crying child.
He wanted a wife. Wasn’t she pretty.
Hasn’t had peace in a while.

Left him with a crying child.
Schoolbooks. No time for anything but grades.
Hasn’t had peace in a while.
Forgot him at school while he was getting paid.

Child missing. Call this number.
Hope draining like a bottle of few litres.
Broken man. Nightmares don’t end with slumber.
It begins with a paycheck. Too few figures.

Millenials [incomplete second draft]

Sacrificial times. Our parents were held to the zephyrs,
Held into throbbing rains with each drop pulsating downwards.
Drizzle. Dropping. Wind whipped.
The rain left fading scars on their ribbed sides,
the little baubles rolling over each bone with the calm care
of a baker shaping croissants in a boulangerie.
At a certain age they were cast downwards
thrown into churning waters beside a blurred cliffside.
Born in darkness, thrown into darkness.
Their collision with the waters
was eaten up by the roar of ongoing storms.

Where they surfaced the sting of the salt yanked tears
from eyes, mingling with the sweat of the thrashing seas,
thrashing arms. Flaring bolts, silhouettes of islandsides,
shadowy tricksters using distance as deathly mirage.
Brothers and sisters drowned alike. Some were left behind.
Some found islands, or were swept to distant coves.
Discovered each other and learnt each other.
Held each other’s bodies. Made us.

By the time we were born our parents swore away
those ancient rites of troubling times
and they made the lands bright with knowledge,
mapped them, and by fate or mistake we came
not into the dark, but into the light,
and so things were, when the progenies. [end]

… not done this one yet.

-j. NG

199: Extra-curricular Villanelle

I’ve always wanted to work on poetry with form, but I’ve never had the exact rules laid out for various patterns. Now I do! poetry booksAnyway. A villanelle that I churned out, hope you enjoy it.

Extra-Curricular Vilanelle

It’s time to go home
    the alarm bell shrieked
Go to the place where you are alone.

From the sidewalk’s shrubbery overgrown
    larger boys peeked.
It’s time to go home.

They tussled; the boy was thrown
    they emptied his wallet, bills, receipts
Go to the place where you are alone.

Shaven heads like wide domes
    bigger boys never bleed
It’s time to go home.

Skipping dinner? Watch your tone.
    I’m telling you, don’t get my ass beat.
Go to the place where you are alone.

He could finally reach the beams, he had grown.
    Noose tight, he leapt off his feet.
It’s time go home.
Go to the place where you are alone.

-j. NG

I once was a bully. I was also bullied. The basis for this poem though, was from wanting to learn the basics of poetic form. I usually write in free verse but I appreciate strictly structured poetry too, and there were lines in the introductions and prefaces of these books that convinced me that the skills to put poetry in a structure were skills indeed worth learning.

198: Introvert

Do you believe in magic?
I do. There’s this little curse I have.
“Be not around four souls or more
Else cower in fear and find solace
In solitude.”

Stumble upon the scene of a trio happily speaking.
I am there. Evoking laughter. Using charms,
A silver tongued monster.
But the fourth man comes and like a golem
With commands activated I maintain it a trio
By playing no part in that number.

The cauldron was too hot.
I shrink to a corner
and alone, concoct a new invocation.

197: Millenials

Our parents were born on clifftops
Held up into throbbing rains and flashes of light
Thrown down into the darkness where thrashing
They swam to islands
Discovered land in the darkness
Learnt each other
Held each other’s bodies
Made us.

Now today we are born in nets.
We lash out, kick to be free.
We see the clifftops
Mapped out in expert cartography.
The nets are sludge and muck that blinds
We see women, we see men
We know there are better
And know so many worse.
We kick at the waves lassoed around our ankles,
Yokes in the form of crosses, rattling chains.
We swim to ascend the clifftop sides
Yearning to see beyond creation.

196: HIM and HER

SHE’d only been gone for half a week
HE was going insane.
SHE and HE were to be married someday
HE knew it.

So, HE:

Wrote letters in texts
one each day – no doctor’s prescription
but to keep the blues away.

HE

reminded her of love’s meaning
and that cheating while accessible
was not acceptable, and that
HE trusted HER.

So, SHE:

Read the first letter by phone
but having been on a plane for a day
and having had to bustle her way
through carriages and buses,
slept fitly

and by the next morning
two more essays buzzed her awake.

Quite annoyed, SHE

sent nothing back.

and

Quite rightly
once SHE read HIS cheating text

SHE kept her silence

and HE

assuming accessibility had become reality

cheated on HER.