Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Light The Way

After losing and gaining and losing it again,
we return to each other's protection.
My friends and comrades.
My masters and commanders.
Experiences of life may wear us down
but polish our souls to a shine.
The deepest part will find its spark.
The gold within the core.
Where the value of everything is kept.
We shine with all the sadness, true and infinite.
We light the way, we light the way.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Silver In Mouth

Like slivers of light
Or the sun rushing past
To taste molten diamonds
In the heart of the mouth

Moonlight that comes
The tenderest crush
The tongue's hidden shine
Silver in mouth

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Her Body

(for Toni Kasim, 1966-2008)

Why did her body lie back into itself—to where
did she go? Why did the body crumble into itself?
Like a blackhole opened inside, and pulled the tissue
and the organs, pulled the heart and the spirit, back
to wherever it came from.
Why did her body fall apart? How could she change?
From a breath traced to its source to a snow flake
melting in reverse. She was only sleeping. There
was a dream of darkness, a deep dark lake.
The surface was like a mirror made of ebony.
She stood there staring at it for an eternity.
That oasis in her mind. Then she took her clothes
off and stepped inside. How could the soul drown
in its own firmament? Is there an explosion of
light? A flushing of blood? An arrow returning
to its bow the journey of its arc?
How can she go and leave no answers?
Memories only riddle and belittle the heart.
An emptied-out vessel. A house no longer there.
A temple abandoned. For what? For a journey to where?

Thursday, April 2, 2009


There is no colonisation.
Our asses are free.
Our lands belong to us.
We are masters of our own destiny.

We control everything that happens.
From refugees to golf courses,
from resorts on beaches to Highland Towers,
to former political aides.
And astronauts.

All these things are ours.
Nobody else owns them.
We are rich beyond our wildest dreams.
And not ten thousand virgins would deny.

I am your master.
As you are my master.
And I am your slave.
As you are my slave.

We are married to ourselves.
Together our colours are ours alone,
from 1948 to 1957 to 1963 to 1969
to 2008/9. We are bona fide.

We are real. We are bona fide.
Finally we have a name.
Neither master nor slave.
But both. One and the same.

So move unto me, my love.

I can taste the curry on your lips.

It's the ecstasy I feel
when you’re tied up in my bed.
It’s the pleasure you feel
when I’m burning in your head.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Silence The Thought

Silence the thought.
The thought is silence.
When I make something out of nothing,
it is upon silence I’m intruding.

I must keep still.

Like a tree against a chainsaw.
I must stand my ground.

Like protesters against water cannons.
Amid the screams of technology
and doomsday recriminations,

I pay my debts in silence.

I let go in silence.

My days of sadness will be lived
in silence.

When they come to draw blood,
it is silence I shall call upon.

And silence will answer.

Silence the thought.

The thought is silence.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Three Kinds Of Freedom

The First Freedom was difficult but
inevitable. It was a lesson
we all had to learn: that escaping from the womb
comes with it
an obligation
to breathe.

Some of us didn’t understand.

But those of us who did would go on
arrogantly believing
we’re free,

that is,

until Freedom Number Two.

Now Freedom Number Two is not inevitable.
But, as in all transactions in life,
requires of us a payment.

Payment for the knowledge that placates
each passing of the day.

Payment for having to decide
what freedom really means.

Payment for having the terrible freedom
to choose.

For we won’t always choose for happiness.

Choose knowledge instead.
Or solitude or survival.
Or even wisdom.
Or at least the violence necessary
to break
someone's heart.

Whatever the cost, freedom will never be enough.

The Final Freedom, however,
is not a choice.
It is the thing that matters the most.

It is knowing the word that can cut through flesh and bone.
And finding the silenced thought in the skull
where the beloved resides.
Until the heart that bleeds
finds another way to die.

It’s freedom itself.

Freedom from pity, despair and strife, but one
defeated all the same. Not because it's
joyless. But because
it understands
freedom offers

nothing. Nothing at all

And that’s when it happens:

when the Final Freedom takes over,
and our last breath of life we surrender,
we close our eyes and realise
we have always been
tethered to each other;

guarded and pleading,

haunted and needing,

each and every single one:

a prisoner.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The End (Fini)

And so it ends. The credits
appear. Even though we know
the story continues, it ends here.
Because it cannot go on
and continue to make sense, or
it would be boring, and
it would be sad, or
it would be
too much
to bear.
Costs have to be considered.
The heart can only admit so much.
And the audience has to leave the room.

And so it ends, like a plant
that bears fruit has to let go its fruit,
to be borne away by water, wind,
monkeys and birds. There’s
nothing left to be curious about.
The story expands but
in different forms and shapes.
With new characters
and a new trajectory,
with the past only serving
as some kind of nostalgic grotesquerie.

And so it ends, a death
is recorded, a finale
allowed. Beat to beat
and breath to breath, this exhalation
stops. No more kisses left
to be given.
No more aching pronouncements
to cry.
Only a sigh.
And a sigh.
And a possible backward glance
that lasts but a second.
Because it had been beautiful
and worthy
but no longer.
For the light needs to be switched off.

And so it ends.
When friends leave comments
that leave no doubt.
When life is asking you
to reconsider your sorrow
with a question that turns
dark into light, or some other
optimistic blight, like tragedy into might.
When the other person no longer
gives you that backward glance
and you’re just staring
at the shadow of a shadow.
It is the end.
It has ended.
There is no more to say.

Except, somewhere, with a step
onto an uncertain plan,
the end turns
and turns
into a beginning.
The fruit bears a shoot.
The movie bears a sequel.
And Lazarus awakes into the same world
with the knowledge there’s still
another who could save him.
From beat to beat
and breath to breath,
the body rethinks its instincts
and decides to live again.
And so it begins.
And so it begins.

For there is no end
a beginning.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Loneliest Profession In The World

There are many professions in this world.
And though work occupies us in ways
deep and shallow,
not all professions are equally

professional. Some people get paid

to kiss. Some fall in love
for money. Some even do it
for free. And yet I’ve always done it
willingly, albeit slyly,

brokering my deals with the lilt of a pout
that suddenly breaks into a smile—I have
always loved this part. Falling in love
with the customer is, after all,

the glissando flourish of the heart.

Ah... if only it was as easy as the song
and dance about it.
Night after night
of working on one project after another, like

“What to say and what to do
when there’s nothing left to say or to do?”

Who’d ever thought love could be so taxing
on one’s capital and imagination?

Not to mention the competition!
And jealousy that stoic opportunistic constant!
To have just one or to have it all?
Questions, questions that burn...

And the answers that sting... like the blitz of champagne
on the severed tongue of a memory...

Back at the shop, some days the business
pours in. Some days
it’s adequately lean.
But we soldier on, my heart and me, in the service
of one plan and then another,

wearing our battle stars
like stigmatas and scars. Scars
from listening too closely. Scars from
pretending to care. Or caring too much
for someone whose emotional cheques

just bounced and bounced. It’s no joke

when the laughter is broke.
But this IS the loneliest profession
in the world. And it doesn’t matter really

if there’s no bonus or pension at the end,
when the loneliness has itself been
the means to
an enemy.

An enemy and a friend.

Monday, February 16, 2009

There He Lies, While I Lie To Myself

He’s lying there thinking.
He’s written me so many messages
he wonders when he’ll be able to write
something else.
Something about the weather maybe.
Something about how it makes him dizzy.
About what happened today
instead of what happened yesterday.
Something to make him forget.
Something to let it through.
Words that have the cure of a pill.
To ease his constipated soul.

While I lie here thinking
of when he forgets me, then
maybe he won’t write to me
or about me anymore.
I would then be revealed
as nothing but the scum left behind
after words have outgrown
the squelching sounds they make
as I make my way out of his mind.
Words that no longer have meaning.
Something already forgotten.
Someone no longer there.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Storm

I held you tight.
Because the lightning
frightened you. You had been talking but it
silenced you.

There was the sudden flash
and then the crack. And since no one else
was there for you to hold on to,
I held on to you.

And because your head was in my lap
and your little eyes so afraid, I held you closer
to me, the pink spiral of your ear
drawing me closer.

But not out of fear.
I held on because I wanted to;
because I wanted

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jom Tengok Bintang: Poems in BM


Hari ini aku lepaskan bahtera
penuh ayam betina dan peket-peket Maggi.
Selagi keyakinanku cukup makan
kenaifan berlayar sekali lagi.

Inilah drama yang saya impikan:
melanggar gugusan Hawaii suatu hari,
kasihanilah mereka yang dirogol lanun
ataupun lemas ego sendiri, tetapi

bukan aku,
bukan aku ataupun kau semestinya.

Pulau itu tak seharusnya sepi tandus.
Badan kita tak semestinya bergolek-golek
di atas pasir hitam gunung berapi.
Tapi mungkin. Mungkin boleh.

Dengan suatu pelukan.
Suatu kucupan.
Suatu ansuran
kasih bulanan.



Teman baru berbaju cokelat.
Kulitnya putih, bibirnya ceri.
Bersama teman baru berjalan-jalan hujung minggu.
Naik motor. Makan McDonald’s.
Minum latte bersama adik comel dia.
Bila dia pelawa tengok wayang,
kami beli tiket filem ketawa, dia suka lawak lucu.
Aku gigit butang dia.
Aku koyak baju cokelat.
Teman baru aku pandai berjenaka.
Aku pegang tangan dia.
Aku suka dengar dia ketawa.
Aku bermalaman di rumah dia.
Bapa dia tanya pasal kerja aku.
Ibunya masak kangkung belacan.
Aku suka senyuman manis dia.
Aku selalu beli dia cokelat.
Aku jilat belakang leher dia.
Teman baru aku pandai, suka aku.
Aku pun suka dia.
Aku mahu hati dia.
Aku mahu jari cincin dia.
Aku mahu bibir dia yang dibasahi liur.
Itu semua aku mahu.
Dia teman baru aku.



burung-burung terbang ke mari
burung-burung cungkil kedua-dua mataku
dan terbangkan lari

aku gantikan dengan guli,
dengan gula kapas, dengan sesudu
bulan, dengan liur mulut sayangku putih



Langit itu jala dan bulan itu ikan.
Jala perangkap perak kayangan.
Jika engkau bulan, aku nelayan.
Sisikmu menyilau, aku senyuman.



butang-butang diselotep kat langit malam
gundik berkelip, mata berteknik
tekan, tekan, satu, dua, malaikat moden
itupun tahi butang tersungkur
ke dalam pelukan

hangat rasanya, hangat boleh dipegang
tidak pun terasa sedih
walaupun tersungkur, walaupun disembur
butang-butang yang dipakai
sepekat madu

dan jawapannya seperti tak sempat nak
memburai tanah di mana kita bergolek-golek
kita seperti butang-butang
tak sabar nak ditekan untuk merakam
masa ini kita pergi lagi

kita berlari lagi
satu, dua, lampu kereta menggelongsori bukit
berkelip-berkelip di dalam baldu
menarilah kita di atas jurang
kita gila berlari, jom, jom tengok butang



kepala berfikir sendiri, bermain sendiri

mata seolah memandang garisan-garisan
yang berselang-seli

tangan kebas, kaki malas, mulut lumpuh, tetek beku,
bibir tidur,

buntut pun bermimpi,

perut seperti rumah yang kosong
tapi jantung masih berdegup



pintu sudah luas terbuka
buat apa lagi kau berdungu
pergilah, bertolaklah, tukarkanlah cadar perjalanan mu itu
tilam baru boleh dibeli, bantal baru boleh dijahit
tidak mustahil setiap lima tahun TV baru
diusung ke dalam bilik, remote control di bawah selimut
jangan lagi diungkit sifar-sifar masa kebudakan
yang usang didermakan, yang sudah dipupuskan
dakaplah benda-benda baru berwangi kilang
ciumlah puas-puas kesegaran sementara
semuanya sementara, perjalanan pun hanya sementara
proton model baru remuk buntutnya
gambar cimpanzi comel pudar warnanya
kehidupan pun akhirnya jemu
teman lama hampa tak tentu
teman muda seperti hiasan perak, kilau berfesyen
bagaikan pameran bergerak di shopping mall, mulut mereka
tersenyum lagi—
apa lagi yang harus dilepaskan?
apa lagi yang sepatutnya dah luput?
pergilah, beredarlah, carilah yang baru
jikalau sanggup, semua boleh digantikan



kau pujangga, aku serangga.
aku lelaki, kau serambi.
kau Madonna, aku banana.
aku jejari, kau berahi.



Apakah celupar itu selipar?
Mulut tak berzip atau renda menular?
Keluar ular, aku tak sanggup
bersigup disini, atau menggugup
dengan suami yang tak berseluar.

Terung mamat berpindah-randah
Perak Selasa, Sabtu ke Sabah.
Kancil dipandu terror di kampus,
mata terbeliak, hati nak mampus
tapi tak bersen, stim pun patah.

Jangan peduli bisikan si lawan.
Bulan bertetek tak semestinya kawan.
Coretan bibir boleh gak pas
walaupun senyuman bagaikan tandas
tok jaguh daerah penyebar kuman.

Cepat-cepat si sayur kundur,
lagi cepat bangsa kot mundur.
Yo, yo, yang berfesyen negro,
tapi hakikatnya tahi kopi-o.
Itulah kisah si mamat ko-lumpor.



logiknya terlus, logiknya terlus
rahsia itu mesti dikotakkan
ini ruang, kau perlukan ruang,
jangan digaru hati yang ruam



kadangkala aku menyakitkan hati
jiran menyerang mintalah ampun
teriak aku macam direnjis najis
“Aku telanjang di genggaman Tuhan!”

kadangkala aku terkehel sendiri
melihat orang berada, berpangkat,
menjilat punggung yang lebih keramat
“Itu muslihat Tuhan bermonyet!”

muka ditampar kerana bersumpah
kulit terkupas balasan akhirat
tapi masih di sini sedap bercangkung
“Bukankah Tuhan main daki di pusat?”



Setelah selesai membaham kucing tiga warna,
pahlawan tersesat itu pun sampai ke garpu jalanan

Burung Gagak di atas pohon menguak
“Siapakah itu? Siapakah itu?”
“Tunjukkanlah hamba jalan ke kota.”
“Kalau penyoal niatnya baik, susur ke kanan.”
Gagak pun tersungkur terpanah di dada

Sehari semalam pahlawan berjalan
sehingga Kota Emas berkilau di mata
Putera-puteri bermonyet menyambut dia
kakinya disabunkan samsu dan sutera
“Cukuplah dengan semua itu. Kehendak aku hanya
satu perkara.”
“Silakan,” Raja Emas tersenyum
lalu tersungkur ke lantai ditikam
“Jika kau mati, siapa yang mengganti?”

Dayang-dayang teriak apa gunanya
Niat baik memang ada caranya



bukan lagi mentah, sudah tak segar
macam pelita buruk, paku yang tagar

macam nasi semalam, sayur masin kelmarin
bulu sudah botak, keredut macam katak

bukan lagi semut, bukan lagi lintah
sudah jadi belut, pandai hisap dadah



dia datang, dia sampai, dia membawa Clorox
untuk menggores impian ku
untuk mencuci mulut ku
kemanisan ayat kelamin karat
perang rasanya

dia datang, dia warnakan semua deria ku



Mengapa takde kasut
untuk dijilat lepas terpancut?
Mengapa takde maksud
yang tersangkut dalam selimut?

Mengapa kau berbisu
lepas mandi berahi?
Bukankah kau tuhan
seks berapi?



pada suatu malam, ingat, mereka kembali pada aku, untuk aku,
pada masa itu aku renungi laptop, aku sedang menunggu
seperti mereka sebelum mereka mula bergerak, tetapi kerana
aku menunggu terlalu lama untuk bebas dari belenggu
aku tersuntuk masa, aku seperti disentak senja
dan mereka pun mengangkat aku pergi, aku pun mengangkat kaki,
aku pun bersiar-siar ke dunia lutsinar,
di mana tanah itu kaca, di mana dinding itu syurga,
sejarah sehalus sekeping kertas dibelah cahaya,
aku cuba menulis tetapi tulisan ghaib di mata,
mereka seperti tak akun berhenti menyakinkan aku
yang masa itu telah habis, sudah sampai
dan mereka tiada lagi pilihan, jadi aku pun kembali

tengoklah baik-baik, aku hanya segenggam pasir berwarna
yang terbeku dalam perspex lutsinar malam,

tengoklah baik-baik, kau hanya budak menggeleng kepalanya,
bedak seperti salji sekeliling mu, pada suatu malam,

kau kembali pada aku, untuk aku, pada masa itu aku intai
lubang di karat pintu,
aku sedang menunggu

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Forgive Him

And so it was...
that the dog appeared,
licked my face awake
and told me “Forgive him.”

Startled, I sat up.
Felt around for my glasses.
And what did I find instead?
Tears. Goddamn tears in my eyes.

So I’ve been crying.
Fuck this shit.
Fuck that dog.

The mornings are hardest.
At night, at least,
I just drink and pass out.
But mornings the dog comes.

His hot breath in my face.
Panting like he’s training for a marathon.
Begging for forgiveness.
Fucking dog.

And yet he is sweet.
And I know it’s because
he just wants to be happy.
But I’m not happy.

I’m angry.
And I’m sad.
There’s a dog in my head.
And my thoughts stink of dog breath.

So, alas, try as I might,
I cannot forgive him.
And that’s when the cat comes
and says, “Let him go.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Under Your Skin

Do you wear what you wear
to hide your woes?
That lovely smile.
That skin of yours.

Does it matter if you hate
the things you see?
This shell you polish.
The invisible "me".

Why should it matter—
what they think of you?
Your secrets with their allure
of everything untrue.

The place where you hid
the junk and the mess.
The terrible things you did
just as a test

to see if you could break
what was already broke.
The hand that bit itself.
History’s cruel joke.

But can anything hurt
if nothing's at the core?
No kisses for the boy
who gave nothing more.

The boy whose own skin
couldn't sheathe his pain.
And the man you became
in your hunger to be him.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Amazing Distance

Distance is a maze of amazement.
It’s a play on words and sounds,
a sudden knowing
in courtship, when your hands
reach out to grasp at something
and you find mine
struggling to get away
and lead you deeper into the maze.

Because when you lean into me
to meet my lips,
you’ve traveled further than you ever had.
And I was just beginning to understand,
naive as I’d been,
the cul-de-sac I thought my love had led to
was actually an enchanted door
requiring of me an “Open Sesame”.

So deeper we go,
and deeper we go,
deeper into the maze until
it becomes everything we know
of each other and ourselves.
Until all the fear we felt
became, in a word, and a sound, amazing.

What at first seemed broken
turned out to be a way in.
What first appeared to be deception
was really just comic intervention.
Every single thing we thought we knew
was nothing more than the skin
of what we truly felt.

And we knew what we had could never be
sad, because even though we were so close,
we had already traveled much further
than we ever had.
With this thing that we still share.
And what can be more amazing than that.
What can be more amazing than that.