Friday, July 24, 2015

A Mid-monsoon Rant

Another wet, slushy day in July. I've lost count of how many wet, slushy July days in a row it's been. Fog, rain, no sunshine, soggy underwear staying soggy for days on end.

I feel especially sorry for the sparrows. I've been feeding the little birds for the last four/five years. Every morning and evening, I put out a plate filled with rice and pounded peanuts and they come flocking as if they can't find food anywhere else. When it rains though, the peanuts and rice drown in the rainwater that collects in the shallow plate. I still haven't figured out a way on how to help when it rains. A feeding post with a cover. That'll do nicely but since I can't make one myself, all I can do is hope sunny days are back again soon.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mid Year

After the chilling start
that left us uneasy
and braced for worse,
March arrived.

Seventeen years after the clampdown on alcohol
when impoverished vendors
furtively brewing spirits in jungles
were chased down, dragged into courts
and jailed, with babies strapped to their backs
while at weddings and celebrations
of the rich and well-connected,
liquor flowed, the red kind, always the rich red,
prohibition was lifted.

We waited
for the streets at dark
to be peopled by drunks,
staggering, delirious, out of their minds.
It didn't happen.

Kelkang happened instead.
Crowds upon crowds
flocking to the tiny village
to drink of the spirit,
for in the last days, I will pour out my Spirit
on all people. Your sons and daughters
will prophesy, your young men
will see visions and your old men
shall dream dreams.

In the churches in the big city,
drums beat urgently
voices rise in worship
bodies whirl like dervishes,
and when the euphoria
does not, will not, abate,
they take to the streets.

Yes, in May, warm, sultry May,
they walk the streets by night,
singing, dancing, praying, chanting,
puncturing the air with cries of hallelujah,
some so delirious they can hardly walk straight,
drunk on the power of the spirit.

As with every revival of the spirit,
darker forces awaken too,
undeniable testimony
a power is at work
we don't all fully understand.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Muse

What is it about overcast days?

The sullen, grey pall,
the thick clouds
that won't let the sun break through
onto the brooding landscape
and all you see
are closed houses and
the lone human figure
on the streets.
Or days when the skies open
and rain falls in sheets,
battering your windows
and the delicate,
vibrant petals of plants
you'd gone to such pains
to help flower..

What is it about days like these
that waken my inner muse?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

If this is January

January is the slow, quiet time of year
when we sit back and relax
after the rush of the Christmas season
and bask in the sun, warming our backs
and eating sweet oranges.

Not a time when crime explodes in our faces:
When young men go missing
and their bloated, blackened corpses are found
and skinny young dark men arrested
and charged nine long days later.
When carnage runs wild, free as blood
as crazed men burst into houses
and slash you to death with
a butcher's knife,
when in a family of six,
five coffins are lined up
the next day.
And on the streets and social media,
church-going people bay for
vengeance and retribution
and of taking the law into their hands.

If this is January
slow, quiet January
I dread what summer will bring.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Hello again, January

Chilly mornings
wrapped in fog,
leaves shiver
on thinning trees,
the sad wintry sun
cannot break through
the greyed out landscape.
Inside the house
echoes bounce off white, naked walls
stripped of Christmas trimmings.
Hello again, January,
to you I raise
a gently steaming cup of tea.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Long and Winding Road That Was

A confession now that 2014 is well and truly in the past. In 1994 my mother had died of cancer, in 2004 my sister had a fall where she broke her spinal cord and became a paraplegic. How apprehensive I was when 2014 arrived, wondering what calamity might be in store. I could hardly bring myself to look at this cover of Our Daily Bread with Alex Soh's beautiful shot of a cyclist travelling down a rugged, winding road between hills and valleys. The curves in the road seemed to me to conceal something frightening. As Christmas time arrived, I breathed easier. The year seemed to be letting itself out quietly. But as news of the QZ8501 came, I thought no, anything could still happen. Eventually it was only this morning that I could bring myself to look at this picture with an easy mind.

To the good Lord who guided me through the long, winding road that was 2014, I am so deeply, deeply grateful.