Zoul, notch up one for the Brits!
Poetry Slam 3: I know I'm doing it right when I heard that loud whoa as I stepped away from the mic. From only one person, in the dark room it came like a bark, but one is enough.
OK more than one person :-)
Chris Mooney Singh, the slam co-organiser (credit is where credit is due, thanks also to Daphne Lee for bringing the slam to KL; it is a huge effort) said that my poetry is true... which is a high compliment indeed -- it's a paradox of poetry that much contrivance is expended to give it the power of a wordless thought, and the word 'true' always brings to me the image of an arrow, flying true, striking its target.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Posted by Madcap Machinist at 9:08 am
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Mother, if you see a tiny white paper boat in your sleep,
do not wonder how it has entered your dream.
It was folded by your loving daughter, with tears in her eyes,
who begs it to carry home her love and sorrow,
over the endless mountains and waters
-Ping Hsin, b. 1902 [trans. Kai Yu-Shu]
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Midsummer's night, Kuala Lumpur.
"This is the way I know love," which I must say, I do not know if this is a confession, a flash of fiction, or poetry, only that I want you to know: this blog is ending, and I am preparing its closure.
While I wonder what I should want to say to you, presently I am examining a scar on my left wrist that I first noticed 48 hours ago. The centimeter-long scar is inflamed, a pink rash around its edges. It is infected. I shall have to treat it later.
I feel the scar stinging my wrist. It is a witness of a kind: for I had registered its presence when I had drowsily glanced at my wristwatch (I was in bed) only to see that it was missing, and there was only a streak of red at the joint of my arm and hand. I must have removed my watch sometime during the night because its strap had chafed against my skin. I have been searching for it frantically and now, two days later, having first overturned my room, my car, and finally retraced my steps to the place where I remember I last checked the time--a mamak in Taman Tun, the final stop before I went home that night--I am almost certain that I have somehow dropped it along the way home, and for I had worn it for a full decade, my faithful ticker, a going-away present from my parents as I was leaving for university, a gift for a lifetime of achievements, once-twice-or thrice-dipped in brine and blood: I am simply grief-stricken.
I do not want to dwell on the lost timepiece for now. Better to reminisce on what just happened one hour and fifty seven minutes ago, by the clock of my cellphone. I was exiting a bar, being led by my right hand by a comely lass (a professional computer engineer, no less) who had quite captivated me with her coquettish manner on several brief encounters -- and last night she came alone to find me. It was that moment when at the door, she: already stepped outside, I: sidestepping aside to let a bevy of girls in through the door, then suddenly found myself staring deeply into the dark eyes of one fair lady:-- 23-years old by dead reckoning, black one-piece, shouldered dress stopping two inches above her knee; three-inch heels bringing her eyeline straight to mine; shoulder-length wavy hair; no jewelery, no cosmetics. I remember vividly the straight cut of her fringe on against her forehead: dry, not sweaty and flushed as one would expect to see at a late hour at the clubs. It was at the last call at the bar and she seemed as fresh as a daisy. And: (this is important) she had stopped in her stride, impeding her friends, her lips slightly parted, her eyes wide open.
I forgot about the computer engineer, released her hand.
Let us presently dispense with the computer engineer, whom I do respect and think of fondly: about half an hour later, at her car, she said, I am sorry for my behaviour, kissed my hand, I want what you just had. Closed the door. She didn't need to say it, I had read it as clear as day in her eyes, the quiver of defeat (or was it me who told her this to mirror; I am a clear pool if you had ever set eyes on one).
Back to the Moment. The new arrival and I, we stood there, locked in our stares. I can only conjure in my mind's eye her visage, but her body is indelible against mine. We stood there, and suddenly I was inside the club again, the both of us had moved with the flow of bodies in sidereal motion, our hands squeezing the other's, her gaze firmly on my eyes and mine on hers.
I am leaving, I said to her.
--But we just met.
--What is your name?
--Mimi, she sang.
--I want to see you again.
Then Mimi kissed me. First a chaste peck on the lips, then a full embrace, and the deepest, lushest kiss I have ever received... not one of lust, but of longing, of completion. The sweetest kiss I have ever known.
-- Trust we will feel this way, if I see you again, Mimi said. (Stunningly concisely, comfortably anglophone, not what I had expected.)
And then Mimi was gone, fled into the crowd, leaving only the flush of her cheeks, the flash of her smiling eyes as she retreated, and I stepped outside to my waiting date. I was breathless, heart-stopped, not wanting to leave, but she was driving after all. She had seen it all, of course.
What was it that happened? I want to believe that it was the coup de foudre I had always wanted to experience, but I am a cynic enough to think that it was just a girls' game, and I was just a toy, a pawn in some trivial power-play: who got to steal the kiss you thought was yours tonight? (I have been guilty of the same prank many a time, haven't you?). If not why did she go, if not why did I leave...
That is what I am thinking of as I am falling asleep now, as I consider my scars of my losses: the deep, throbbing, emptiness in my right hand, the wound that would never heal; and the sharp sting on my left where there is vacant space where there was once a treasured possession. The hands I held tonight, their balm and the missing senses. I know too well that my own hands lie to me.
I am thinking of the trust she left me... and if I could find the faith
to believe that it was true, that there is hope.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I am very pleased with this weekend's produce: four new graffiti*, two of which are scenes from Lolita, which I will show presently.
This second picture is an original composition, my impression of chapter 13 of the first part of the novel where H.H. discreetly fondles an innocently oblivious Lolita, who is eating an apple, on the sofa in the living room. Lo does not actually straddle H.H. in this way in the text (this expunged scene from the '97 movie is closer to how it went down in the book, albeit differing subtly from some details in the narration), but I was in a risqué mood. Firstly, the novel suggests that H.H. has an orgasm, which is difficult to imagine just by seeing a picture of Lo with her legs over his lap (it is merely "creepy", and I can't imagine PE at that level, I mean, seriously?), so I am using this pose to strongly suggest that this is in fact what is happening (at any rate, H.H. is fully clothed); secondly I like the idea that Lolita is actually the one in control, and I am hoping to convey that in this image... What do you think?
* I am overdue for some real painting, current circumstances being unfavourable, hopefully to be improved soon. Thankfully I am not short of inspiration.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Another FB Graffiti based on a classic masterpiece, 'The Toilet of Venus' (or, if you prefer a less comic-sounding name, 'The Rokeby Venus'). It was painted circa 1650, by Spanish master, Diego Velazquez, and (to me) represents a moment in the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque style. I regret that I had to omit the ribbons, which are a key element of the original painting, because I felt that they otherwise cluttered the compacted composition of the graffiti.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
By Billy Collins
My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident
(picnic, lightning) when I was three — Lolita
It is possible to be struck by a meteor
or a single-engine plane
while reading in a chair at home.
Safes drop from rooftops
and flatten the odd pedestrian
mostly within the panels of the comics,
but still, we know it is possible,
as well as the flash of summer lightning,
the thermos toppling over,
spilling out on the grass.
And we know the message
can be delivered from within.
The heart, no valentine,
decides to quit after lunch,
the power shut off like a switch,
or a tiny dark ship is unmoored
into the flow of the body's rivers,
the brain a monastery,
defenseless on the shore.
This is what I think about
when I shovel compost
into a wheelbarrow,
and when I fill the long flower boxes,
then press into rows
the limp roots of red impatiens—
the instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth
from the sleeve of his voluminous cloak.
Then the soil is full of marvels,
bits of leaf like flakes off a fresco,
red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick
to burrow back under the loam.
Then the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue,
the clouds a brighter white,
and all I hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone,
the small plants singing
with lifted faces, and the click
of the sundial
as one hour sweeps into the next.