Sunday, December 14, 2008

The One I Love

I don't understand the words we made from it.
Thinking didn't clarify at all, nor having felt it.
These two points made it all the more confusing.
Where I stood in relation to you, and where you sat,
naked after consummating what we shared,

my nerves like chocolate foil wrappers strewn
empty of silver after having revealed
the sweetness within.

The sweetness that now gild my mouth
after having made a gift of it.

Sweet words, sweet words.

(What does this mean? The one I love?)

These sweetened words that now lie
meaningless in the silence

that has crept into the best of all possible worlds, this world,
after the kisses that silenced it, after having
refused its share of the glory;

these words became
another secret.

(What does this mean? The one you love?)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Master's Return

When he comes back, it feels like
my eyes are finally unclouded.
I look out over the city and sense its
gentle pulsations; its amber glow
and jewels. In every light that burns, I know
a ritual is calling me back
from the absence.

Dark voices
in my ear.
There are spies everywhere.
From the dull grey of the kitchen knife
to the dirt crescents of my nails,
I can finally see them for what they are.

And from the balcony of my condominium,
I receive missives from my enemies
who have perceived my knowing.
They have seen my head illuminated
like polished silver, unvarnished truth.
Even the crows snipering in the trees
have called a truce.

So this is the aftermath, the post calculation.
Whatever violence that was left
is now garlanded in light.
And you can see him walking down the slope--
the bridegroom in shameless velvet--
to where I sleep

With songs, he rouses me to wakefulness.
With kisses, he douses me to hopefulness.
“It’s time to write again, my love.
For our master has returned.”
And he looks at me, his eyes
sparkling with a desire
to begin our story again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jealousy, Bourgeois and Common

Barthes wrote of jealousy as bourgeois and common—
but there’s nothing common about my jealousy.

My jealousy is a boy soldier strung between Koreas.
My jealousy is Daniel Dennett dreaming of angels.
My jealousy is a terrorist singing to his timebomb.
My jealousy is the garland around Judy's throat.

My jealousy refuses fakery; how can it be bourgeois?
Roland be damned, you know nothing about jealousy.

Jealousy is a madman screaming at Mona Lisa.
Jealousy is the Twin Towers as a blockade of cinders.
Jealousy is a child shuffled like mahjong pieces.
Jealousy is Mother Theresa's refusal to be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mystery Boy

This one hides his nose in his books, in his books.
This one sleeps like a hamster inside my hands.
This one's a little boy, without a care in the world.
This one's many mysteries only hinted at with a smile.

But where do they hide their hearts, I wonder?
Where do they sleep when I'm dreaming in his bed?
How many riddles should I write into poem?
So he'd smile for me: a most reckless hint.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Treasure Chest

I guess it was easy to overlook
the most certain of things; 
taking for granted
the most obvious of things. 

How the pendant gets noticed
as it hangs there in the desert, 
instead of the scar.

How the motive to let it hang there
is eclipsed because the eyes just can’t seem to look away.

And so I guess because I can’t
(and because in other ways I did), 

I erred on the side of bliss. And I ignored you, 

walked down that valley, looking 
like some idiot adventurer

for the lost chest of gold, 

treasure I just can’t seem to ignore.


I think of laughter the same way
a child discovers

how to overcome
his fear.

And this fear that has engulfed me—
I am smiling at it.

The wickedness
I am capable of—

I will cherish this forever.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Yours and Yours Alone

Imagine how sad you would feel

if you found out
your father was Hitler and he had
bequeathed you his will.

Not the kind of will written on paper
nor the kind fondled by lawyers, but the will
that is power

stored in one’s heart—like a whisper.

No, I would not blame you for feeling sad, or lost,
or even ashamed.

Imagine if you had no choice
but to listen to this whisper
grow slowly like a rose, or a tumour,

invading your fibre
as ink does a stain. As though it were
a seedling conceived in

Who can blame you for wanting
to abort
that kind of history?

What kind of monster would cherish
the suffering of six million faces
pressed against a death mask
carved as a grin?

I would not blame you if you chose to take your life.
Is it not yours to keep and give away as you wish?

Surely your father wouldn’t have wanted you
to have that choice
to make—so why should you give him

the choice?

Is not your imagination yours and yours alone—
to wield and fashion into any weapon you like?

If the memories that still haunt your path
cannot imagine you without their hands and mouths
sucking on yours,

then whose imagination was it you really inherited?

Imagine how terrible it would be
if it were yours
and yours alone.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


El sabe
como el océano.
Un océano que trepa fuera de sí mismo
y se endurece encarnado.

El entra
como el océano.
Un oceano que llena tan completamente
Me ahogo en sus brazos.

(Translation by Omar Feliciano)

(Appeared first on


He tastes
like the ocean.
An ocean that climbs out of itself
and hardens into flesh.

He enters
like the ocean.
An ocean that fills so completely
I Drown in his arms.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Woman outside the Painting

for Frida Kahlo

is wearing a dress much like the dress
the woman in the painting
is wearing.

She looks as intense, equals her gaze.
Unflinching, the both of them,
like sisters who truly know
what the other admitted
in secret.

“You’re not the one who paints me,”
one of them cries out at night.
“You can’t make me
pick up the brush
just because it’s what you want.”
And on and on it goes, the paintings multiply,
day by day, the tally uneven.

Until in truce one day they both stand
in a gallery retrospective, side by side.
One smiling but fragile
as crystal. The other unflinching,
having already won
her battle.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Election Day

There’s electric in the air.
They’re throwing tractors in the air.
They’re giving everyone twenty ringgit
just to hand them back their mandate.

Little towns all over the country
are strung through with banners and posters
of candidates pondering for the people
“What will be your fate?”

The streets quiver with emotion.
It’s like the whole country married money.
“Who’s going to win?” the people roll their eyes.
“Who’s going to bankroll the rural seats?”

Look. Look.
Here comes another entourage.
Candidates in billowing batik silks
raise linked hands, rehearsing the victory.

The whole village is dressed up
like a boy for his circumcision.
Call your uncles and your aunties.
They’re going to slaughter a cow today.

“Thank you” the candidates say,
and they sit down to prayers
and dinners in front of big TV screens,
waiting for their faces to appear.

All of a sudden, smiles are creasing
across the country.
Tractors are being thrown in the air.
Whoever needs a tractor, a tractor he will get.

People stop to watch the tractors.
Or put on a face to show that they care.
Children in schools are stupidly comparing
“Who will your parents vote for?”

Uncles and aunties host impromptu meetings.
Saying “Ai-yah! It doesn’t matter one!”
Pointing fingers at the broken scales of justice.
“Why you always vote for the losers?”

But who’s the real loser here?
Why should it matter why you’re running?
As long as you’re running,
you’re running, right?

Because everyone wants power.
You want power. I want power.
They want power. We want power.
Everyone wants a piece of that tractor.

Because it’s one day every five years
that power rests in everyone’s hands.
And that kind of power is like an all-you-can-eat.
But that kind of power, mister, doesn’t come cheap.

“You think you own this town?”
They say “You think just because
it’s a democracy, you can hand it over
to the communists?”

“You’re a fool! A traitor!
A traitor to your people! A traitor to your race!
Like a pea that’s forgotten its nut!
Traitor! Traitor! That’s what you are!”

They wipe the glorious sweat off their faces.
They think “What now?” while marking little Xs.
In moist polling stations where their choices are already made.
In little towns where things will (most) probably stay the same.

Will the phantoms ride the buses again?
Will the daggers come out to play again?
It’s election day, everyone!
Isn’t it fun? Isn’t it fun?

Saturday, February 2, 2008


like memories
of a fireworks display.

The moon a half-pried
in a half-lit room.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Secret Universe

You may think I'm referring
to the colour of his skin. I am
not. I refer to
the colour
of the sky,

that night,

when he pointed the viewfinder
at Taurus, between the two
tips of the horn.

Peering first, he spoke of
what humans can see with the naked eye.

And then there is the thing that no one can.

Monday, January 28, 2008


after sunrise,
the palm rafters of the house

slice light
and shadow into

luminous tigers
across wooden walls.

among shapes of
furniture, they stalk
the day
like tear-away calendars

to land

on the backs of
other shapes
who stir.


In the sunken courtyard,
broken foot pavers
cradle warm soft

The mother high up
on a window ledge

looks down

through snags of creepers
and glories.

Sunlight in various
jigsaw pieces
climb the stairs

as faint meowing
pads through
the abandoned bungalow.

Just now, a darting moth
distracts her.