The internet allows me to feel so connected with other individuals. Granted, I don't spend much time on social media, but I've been able to share my work online and have utter strangers read what I've written and give me feedback.
This poem is for the friends I've met thanks to the internet.
I ride the waves of the triple double-u dots
And find myself finding you,
Making friends with your creations,
You'll be finding me,
And you do,
The space between us spans oceans,
But we talk as if across coffee shop tables,
Hoping they sail to the other's ears.
And we sleep
To the other's daybreak.
Unaware of the other's latitude,
Or time zone,
Dreaming of silent conversations
And the clacking of fingers against keys,
Hoping to compose a subtle soundtrack to our silent movie.
In your waves I'd most likely drown under,
Because mine are gently lapping the stone shore,
Unwilling to go very far
Without smashing rocks and dam walls.
I wonder if our online streams
Shall ever interlock
Like friends going to the movies,
Or schoolmates catching each other's glances
Where words are expensive.
Perhaps I’d rather we didn’t.
I’d keep whispering melodic messages into bottles,
And creating beautiful maps of your picturesque city
Though you may never hear my echo
Across the continent calling.
I suppose a disclaimer should come first. This is just little me on a little sad rant after watching the news about Gaza and Ukraine. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones to any war for whatever reason.
I've been told that some conflicts are, what they call, unavoidable. I've been told that sometimes war is necessary... But at the moment, I don't really want to believe those statements. I just want peace.
I don't expect everyone to agree with this little piece, but I do hope (if you don't agree) that you, dear reader, would be polite even in your disagreement. I'd appreciate that.
Dear World Leaders,
I am not a political activist, nor do I study politics for a living. I am, however, a citizen of this world and I believe I have the right to say that the fighting has to stop.
I’ve been told that the beauty of living in the twenty-first century is how we’re somehow more interconnected. I’ve been told we’re all weaved into a web called the world, and we are all human.
I’ve also been told that conflict could be resolved whilst “minimising casualties.”
It’s funny how ‘minimal casualties’ are always comparative—to the past, to other wars, to conflicts that reach beyond the bounds of my memory—but still, here we are, in a supposedly progressive world and still the fighting continues.
I do not pretend to understand politics, or differing ideologies, but I will say that I understand the humanity of us all. We are, all of us, made up of flesh and bone that bruises and breaks too easily. We are mortal in the very sense of the word. We open our eyes to wake, and we close them to sleep. We were never meant to survive rocket launches or metal bullets to the chest.
But of course, you must win your wars. You must win because somehow one side or the other is more right. You must win your wars.
And what about the rest of us?
The ones you call casualties?
Out there, where planes crash and guns fire like metal popcorn in a microwave, out there people are dying. Do you understand? They’re gone. You can never ever bring them back to life. No amount of apologies or convictions can change the fact that too many families have been broken by death and too many children have had their dreams replaced by the nightmarish sound of gunfire.
I don’t care how much ‘repair’ you can do. These moments will never be returned as fresh blank slates. Time only progresses forward, and the more time that goes on the more people die. You do not have the elixir of life. You can’t bring them back. You can’t ‘make this right.’ Not this way, at least.
I understand—you believe you’re making the world a better place. I understand—there is right and wrong and sometimes, action is necessary.
But I don’t understand how more war can bring peace.
Victory will never bring back the dead.
Victory will never rewind the damage.
I understand—there are things worth fighting for.
But are guns necessary?
We call children who fight with fists barbaric. We praise children who talk things out like ‘adults.’
So what exactly are we doing fighting with fists, creating bruises, allowing our people to taste blood on their lips?
I just don’t understand why you think this is okay. I hope I speak for everyone by saying that I am just more and more frustrated because the death toll keeps adding up.
I’m just concerned for others like me who have dreamt big dreams. I want to dream with them, to tell them that their dreams are valid, but they’re living in nightmares. How do I reconcile ‘ideology’ with ‘humanity’?
I don’t know.
I’m just throwing things into the void, I suppose.
But I wish it would all stop.
Too many people have died.
One casualty is enough.
Please, if you can, let the death toll stop rising, I beg you.
Make war avoidable.
Let people live.
Time as we know it runs a constant stream. It flows ever forward, never backward, never subject to anyone’s will but its own.
It’s a strange concept that we all learn from an early age. Once a moment has past, it is impossible to take back. Time is like glass. It can be broken down to a million pieces, a million little moments, a million little seconds and minutes and hours and days. We can try to comprehend its complexity this way (as we so often try to comprehend what is beyond our limited human minds) by chopping our experiences into smaller portions. We say that our year is made up of key moments—places we’ve been to, people we’ve met, people we shall never meet again, consciousness turned to ash, new gravestones lain on fresh carpets of grass.
Still, a photo is more than parts put together. Snippets of time is not the same as the entire picture. To say so would mean that Mona Lisa is a masterpiece solely for her smile—and many would agree to this statement—but the Mona Lisa is a masterpiece because of the entire expression of her face, as well as the way her shoulders seem to slack, as well as the backdrop she had been painted in.
Such is also the reason Jane Austen’s novels are classics--Pride and Prejudice is more than Mr Darcy and Elizabeth, or shall we ignore the contribution of all the other characters who have made their appearance?
The riddle of life necessitates a glimpse at the entire photo—such a glimpse we perhaps will never truly see in our lifetime, for who is to truly say they’ve understood a person’s life and all the interwoven complexities hidden within it? We all have secrets, and sometimes, there are parts of time hidden from even our own selves—parts of time we can’t remember quite so well.
But what’s more perplexing than the riddle of life is how its preciousness is amplified by the little window of time we are given to live it. I’ve heard it said that the greatest equaliser is death itself, for no natural human being can escape it (although we’ve all tried). Once a person is gone, it is impossible for them to return. Not as they once were, at least. Never as they once were.
As such, I’ve dwelt upon this thought for the longest time—perhaps I am morbid for doing so, for calculating the number of years I have left to live, for estimating how much time I have left before my own little window comes to a close.
Bear with me.
If I had a total of sixty (or seventy) years to live a proper life, give or take, I have blitzed through a third of my existence already.
And what have I to show for it?
To be honest, mostly nothing. I’ve done nothing of significance at all. I am not a person of great repute. I have not read enough books to make me wise. I still quarrel with my parents and siblings over the most petty things. I continue to get upset over trivial matters. I sleep in when I ought not to.
The list goes on really.
My window of time leaves me feeling helpless.
Granted, I do believe in an afterlife, but it doesn’t mean I plan to squander my years away. I wish I could do something meaningful.
The facts of my existence, however, have made it quite plain: I am not as others—capable of creating stained glass artwork out of their lives. I am simply an ordinary individual being, just as so many of us on this earth are destined to be.
And I don’t think that’s a bad thing—a peaceful existence is one that many undervalue.
There’s a movie that has come out in recent memory. I first meant to watch it only because it starred three Harry Potter actors, and that was it. It has an interesting plotline, and I’ve always been fascinated with plotlines (suppose it’s the writer within me itching to reveal itself), but I hardly knew that when I'd first seen it.
The film’s name is About Time, and it’s rather clever. Tim, the main character, can travel to any event he remembers—in his lifetime, of course, he can’t go off and kill Hitler, as his Dad explains.
But the movie isn’t about this extraordinary act of bravery. It’s about how Tim goes through life the best he can.
Even if time travel were possible, it wouldn’t solve all the problems life brings us. We still have to stand watch as our parents eventually pass away; we watch as our friends make their own mistakes; we chase after our dreams and watch as they slip casually past our fingers.
Tim’s main goal in life is to live the most extraordinary ordinary life possible.
And I’d like to think that’s a brilliant way to look at our little window of life: a chance to make every single day extraordinarily beautiful in our own special way; a chance to leave fingerprints across people’s hearts by loving them with all our hearts; a chance to spark warmth in other human beings by simply truly staying present in the present moment.
It’s an ambitious feat—to live each second the best way we can—but then again, what better way is there to live?
There was something about it, Chara decided. There was something about the music that made her blood rush properly—not like lethargic fluid simply going about its job, no, it rushed through her veins as if exhilaration lay within its core. She’d never been to a concert before—she never had reason to—but now, standing as a speck in the sea of the small crowd, she saw its appeal.
Individual human beings tightened to form a single collective, moving to a beat that was not their own, moving in sync though actual movements vary. It was not like a club where Chara feared being pressed too firmly against some stranger’s chest. It was not like that at all.
She had space enough to breathe, but she couldn’t—she didn’t feel claustrophobic, mind you, the breathlessness was a proper sensation. It was as if every drum beat sucked the air right from her lungs, and the rests in between were permissions to suck air back in. Chara was not particularly fond of having her breath knocked out of her, but this was ecstasy.
It was at that moment she practically ignored her companions and threw herself into the waves of music. The entire set was ironic: the rhythm was lively yet left her tranquil, the singer’s mangled voice sounded incredibly whole, the instruments distinct but blended congruently, the crowd moved harmonically yet each swayed to an internal tune.
When she ran her eyes lazily across the stage, Chara knew she was screwed.
Her fiery soul was ignited by dark orbs that went on and on and on until forever. They seemed to stare straight at her from the stage—the eyes’ keeper was casually beating the drum set before him, smirking, twirling his sticks in his hands. Chara felt like an ocean had erupted from the dam of her chest. With every beat, the drummer dictated the ebb and flow of her heart. The pounding infiltrated her system, found its way into her bones, poked around, and decided it was a neat place to stay.
All the while, the drummer continued to smirk, thumping with his feet, controlling Chara’s heartbeat.
It was the kind of smirk that hid a sharp tongue behind its lips. The kind of smirk that told Chara how this man would have said her name. It wouldn’t have rolled off his lips like honey, no. The drummer would have said it like a flint scraped against a rock. He would have ignited sparks of ember in the soul Chara had kept bundled under blankets. He was the type of man who would have promulgated his admiration, or his revulsion. He was not the type of person Chara fancied latching herself onto.
Yet, his eyes pierced her with a perverse yet pure intensity. It went against all her logic; she knew it was rude to stare; but Chara found she could hardly turn away.
It was a terrifying sensation mixed with thrill and confusion. She knew for a fact that the drummer was not smirking at her—the spotlight was just aimed towards the singer right smack in front of him, and he, the bludger he was, was avoiding the glare.
Yet he, the bludger that he was, was avoiding it by looking in her direction. Coupled with her rapid heartbeat controlled by his bloody drumming, Chara felt her sensibility being pushed aside.
At this moment, all that mattered was the ecstasy (not that she would do anything rash after the music stopped, that is)—and so, she threw her head back once again, allowing sighs of euphoria to escape her lips. She lost herself in the blaring music, lost herself in the pounding of her own heart.
The weather in my little world bubble was bipolar today (or I might have just spaced out when the sun suddenly ran from the clouds).
The rain came, and oh did it pour.
I love rainy days--irrationally, might I add--and wrote this for the occasion.
Morse Code Windows
Sends me morse code messages
That go tap tap against my window.
They’re meant for me,
And anyone who will listen.
I decipher his whispers,
But the thunder joins in,
And I can’t hear the rain above all her noise.
The rumbling makes the rain glitter
Like falling stars
That plummet into my hands
But dissolve at my fingertips.
Cannot touch me properly,
Unless he uses his tears.
So, the rain
And I can’t seem to keep up.
He sings in rhythmic beats,
Melodic pounding against the glass panes.
I say wait,
But he doesn’t listen
And does as he pleases.
I sit here
And hope I got it right.
I tap the window,
Tap morse in reply.
“I’m right here.”
I, admittedly, have abominable phone habits.
I scarcely reply right away (unless it's got something to do with homework, but even then, I could go for hours without seeing my text messages).
Please don't misunderstand--I don't ignore my messages with malicious intent. I simply have other priorities--other activities that preoccupy me. And I'd much rather have a decent conversation with someone in person (or through well crafted e-mails/letters) rather than through text. It might just be my world view, but texting feels so... impersonal...
Apparently, not all my friends think this way, and I have offended certain people for not replying early or not putting smileys in my messages.
So, I wrote about it.
Satellite Text Messages
I pretend to fall asleep
When your message rocket launches its way to my phone.
My head is hazed
With powder blue clouds,
Keeping me dangling between sleep and waking silence.
I try to tip the balance one way
But realise I’m leaning the other.
And the scale growls at me,
Asking me to make up my mind.
Your message buzzes next to my ear,
A bee sweet-drenched in nectar.
I clamp my petal eyelids
And beg you to understand.
My thoughts are ICU weak
And my fingers clumsy.
I can’t possibly reply.
Wait for the morning’s coherence to shower me.
After I take a cool rain bath to begin the day,
And fight sleep in the car-ride to where I ought to be.
Then, maybe I’ll read your satellite message from space.
May your oxygen tank last you the night,
Because I am terrible at CPR,
My skills work like an old model CPU.
I tend to blow in CO2.
You and I both know
That I could undoubtedly kill you.
Still, you rocket launch text messages
At eleven PM
Knowing that I can’t always pretend to fall asleep.
I Meant to Write You Another Sort of Poem, But Decided This Ought to Do... (A Poem That's Not Really a Poem)
You and I
Are still strangers
In the greater scheme of things.
I meant to write you another sort of poem
To tell you how much you already mean to me,
And I did.
But I’ve yet to draw up our affair from my deck of cards,
The very deck life handed me at birth,
So my words can’t reach you
By handwritten letters in the mail,
By carefully wrapped packages under lit trees,
By bottles filled with scrunched up notes.
I meant to write you another sort of poem
To tell you how I can’t wait to meet you,
But I don’t know how to address you.
Your eyes are hollow orbs in my mind,
I cannot see into depths of unfilled voids,
My fingers cannot simply twist the empty space into an embrace,
My face cannot blush at the touch of your fingertips
When your rough (or soft) is beyond their knowledge.
Perhaps another’s face can flush
Under your (is it delicate?) touch.
Your hands perhaps hold another’s—but even that I can’t know for sure.
Perhaps you wonder the same
Across the globe.
I wish I could tell you--
My lips are chaste,
My waist waits for your embrace,
I cross my legs with you in mind,
I hide my chest and bide my time.
I wish I could see you,
I wish to memorise your face.
I cannot know whether your jaw is sharp or square,
I cannot know whether your cheekbones would cut mine pressed against them,
I cannot know whether you smirk or smile,
I cannot know,
I am not meant to.
I am only meant to find you
The way the rivers find the sea—eventually.
I meant to write you another sort of poem,
To say I can’t wait to see you smile,
But decided this ought to do:
I’d tell you I’m willing to wait a long while.
You should be off on adventures,
As I am off on mine.
We both have loads to learn,
Both have mountains to climb.
And when we meet,
I know I will love
The way your story will slide into mine.
Until the day I realise
I want (but do not need) you
By my side,
Until the day you realise
I’m not entirely insufferable,
Until the day you wish for me
To walk alongside you,
This letter will do,
Godspeed to us
Decides we’re ready,
I’ll hide that other poem
Until I find you.
If you've ever been a student and have never ever had a 'bad day' in class, then I can assure you: you're the minority.
This poem is about one of those bad days, when not one part of the lessons seemed to stick. Don't worry, though: I've been working on understanding my lessons the whole weekend, and... I think I'm getting there...
Us In Inorganic Chemistry
We shove elephants from our thoughts
And convince ourselves to stay present.
Our flute blown laughter disrupts the class,
But we don’t notice.
With our twitters ringing in our ears,
And we’re gone.
But we can’t
We shove elephants from our thoughts again
And convince ourselves to stay present.
But I’m scribbling again
Filling the margins with words
That have nothing to do with the present.
The blackboard is a mess
Of chalk fumes and diagrams.
With our webbed hands,
We try to throw our brains to the front of the room,
Hoping something will stick.
We leave with vague concepts playing themselves on repeat
And hope we know enough to get through.
I grew up reading about women who never needed saving. They didn't need a man to 'save' them. They were their own knights in shining armour.
Sidenote: Whether you be a man or a woman, you can't possibly be completed by another flawed human being. (I'm sorry if you disagree, but I am adamant about this.)
And as I grew older, I came to understand that some of the worst villains didn't have horns sticking out of their hair. They wore helmets to hide them.
Side-sidenote for all kinds of folk: watch out. There are real predators out there.
Poem 4 dwells on this idea.
He rides an i8
And fancies himself a knight.
With his broad sword
And his whiskey glass shield,
He slays dragons
Only to watch their limp forms transform into maidens.
My friends and I
Wear walls of armour,
And smash empty bottled brains against rocks,
Shattering hearts without meaning to.
Guilt ridden, we carve wooden swords from tree branches,
And fend off the nasty lies the shattered brave broadcast.
We practice our swordplay on the beach by the bay,
Our words curling into blades.
We laugh when we bruise.
We taunt when we lose.
And he stands at the edge of the cliffs,
His eyes a sea kissed blue
From the time he ran from the rain.
He watches us
And sees us breathe fire.
Not comprehending that we swallow the sun
And spit Helium bubbles for fun.
We are our own knights now.
In dresses of mail,
We slam against the pavement infested streets as we walk
Down to the alley
To slay the i8 monster.
When I go out with friends, sometimes everything's happening so fast around me that I get left behind in my own thoughts as the conversation turns elsewhere, or something.
This is a poem that plays with that idea: the idea of being left behind, the idea of being with people but at the same time feeling alone.
Here it is: poem number 3.
The hatter's table
Sat five of us down.
We were all sane and well.
As sane as the next person, at least.
I wore a crown
Of flower shaped roots
To keep my feet on the ground,
But the others
And the wind blew them to the clouds.
Anna kicked and screamed,
Knocking over teacups
Filled with liquid smiles.
Knocked them over
With her feet.
Those that chipped
Had the grass-like carpet to break their fall.
Gregory was clawed by a crow,
And fell back down,
Landed somewhere near Ireland,
Somewhere near the sea.
Carrie could hardly stop laughing,
Could hardly see where she was going,
And got herself tangled in telephone wires.
Orion had his eyes
Firmly set on me
And I wished he didn't have to go.
But the wind blew,
And Orion flew
So it was that I sat alone
At a table for five
Wishing I wore feathers too