inspired by random and some not-so-random events and people in my life

Thursday, November 09, 2006


For a moment there,
You had me at "hi".
Breath held.
Moment passed.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What's Love Got To Do With It?

It's an act of will
You choose
And then you live with it.

Friday, July 28, 2006


I know why crazy people sing:
To keep from hearing the voices in their heads.
I know why I sing all the time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Square peg, round hole.
Doesn't seem to fit right.
Frustration sets in.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Turmoil Theory

If the flutter of a butterfly's wings can create a cataclysmic chain of events thousands of miles away, then why do some efforts seem so futile? Why is it that one can feel so powerless, too ineffectual to stem the tide of change?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Strangely Quiet

It was a strange dream.

I was travelling alone on a bus, like a Greyhound coach. It was late, way past midnight. Other than an occasional murmur, my fellow passengers were quiet. Through the rain-speckled bus window, I could see the shuttered shopfronts of what looked like the centre of a small town. The bus wound its way through the silent streets before finally pulling up outside a darkened office in a narrow lane.

Silently, everyone disembarked, and within minutes, had scattered in various directions. I grabbed my duffle bag from the coach’s belly and trudged down the lane towards the main road. There was a light drizzle. The tarmac was glistening in the light from the streetlamps. At the end of the lane, there was a police cordon. The policeman on duty waved me past, uninterested.

It was as if I had arrived in an unfamiliar town and was at a loose end. I saw a group of four people who had been on the bus. Judging from the muted chatter and soft laughter, the four, three men and one woman, seemed to be friends. I trailed them to a late-night pub, and walked in behind them.

At this point, the dream morphed. I was no longer in the dream myself. I felt like I was watching a movie. I felt like a voyeur. The group stayed in the pub for an hour or so, before two of the men got up from their bar stools and left. The remaining man and woman who appeared to be a couple remained seated. They were deep in conversation, although it was mostly the woman who did the talking. She appeared to ask him a series of questions, in urgent whispers. He kept quiet, until, finally, she lapsed into silence too. Pause. In tacit agreement, the two got up and walked out the door, leaving their drinks sitting half-drunk on the bar counter.

Outside the pub, the couple acted out a mini-drama. She tried to leave, in tears. He threw his cigarette on the ground and grabbed her arm. They scuffled for a moment, before he let her go. He watched her receding back for a while, before turning to go too.

Fast forward. Change perspective. I am reading the newspapers. A report catches my eye - suicide bombing at a late-night party, hosted in some posh downtown residence. The perpetrator was a man. The twist in the story? A woman had rushed into the party, seconds before the explosives went off. The woman was his wife.


5 hours.
It was more than that.
It was priority.
It was primacy.
The import was not lost.
And so the tables are turned.

Clean Cut (Not)

Cuts like a knife?
Only one with a jagged edge
That rips to leave
A myriad of tears

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Mental Gymnastics for Intellectual Sluts

Years ago I read a short story – I believe it was by Woody Allen – that described an escort service with a twist. The business provided for hire, not nubile young females for mindless sex, but women with post-graduate degrees from Vassar and Radcliffe for cerebrally stimulating conversations. What a mind-blowing idea! It sure gives new meaning to that old chestnut of a phrase, “My wife doesn’t understand me”, eh? Today, I imagine such intellectual infidelities are facilitated, like pornography, wife-swapping and casual sex, by the proliferation of the Internet and its multiple communication channels, and why not? Why should the Internet privilege one set of proclivities over another? :)

Take any one idea,
Mere fodder for
The intellectual mill.
Twist and turn,
Watch it squirm.
Tease it out ad infinitum.
Pinion down for the kill,
Nail it at the climax.

CUT TO: Scene with post-discourse cigarette.

Good Teachers

“We teach who we are.” – Parker Palmer

A good teacher is not one who was born a saint.
What does one who is perfect understand about
The temptations of the flesh,
The tumultuousness of the soul,
The weaknesses of the mind?

A good teacher is not one who has never made any mistakes.
What does one who succeeds all the time understand about
The humiliation of failure,
The agony of defeat,
The bleakness of a life gone wrong?

A good teacher is not one who has never experienced
Life in all its vicious vicissitude,
The helplessness of being disempowered,
The anger of being marginalized,
The vulnerability of being exposed.

Even one who has struggled and overcome is not
A good teacher yet,
Not without being able to say,
With equanimity,
“It doesn’t mean I’m better than you.”

The more I read, the more I understand.
The more I teach, the more I learn.
The more I live, the more I grow.

A good teacher is one who
Can see in all clarity,
Can say in all humility,
Can share in all sincerity,
This is who I was,
Who I still am.

I have been an idiot, sometimes.
I have been a fool, often.
I have been impetuous, unthinking, selfish,
Careless, partisan, opinionated,
Silly, proud, lazy,
Just like you.
I am, but I am learning.
Together, we grow.

Monday, March 27, 2006

To the Self Righteous

When I was 19, my friends and I went on a backpacking tour of Europe. In Florence, Italy, we met a group of American girls at our youth hostel. They hated everything about Europe, particularly the weather. We were puzzled. It was late April (or early May, I can’t quite remember). Temperatures ranged from 12 to 18 degrees in the day. It was cold for us, yes, but then we were used to tropical weather. Perhaps these girls were from Hawaii or some tropical part of the good ol’ US of A. Then we noticed that, to a T, they all wore skimpy tank tops and shorts, all the time. Surely that was not appropriate attire for Europe in spring? Little wonder they were cold. We had to ask. They whined, “But it was 100 degrees (Fahrenheit, or 38 degree Celsius) back home in Indianapolis…” Duh.

Moral of the story:

If you live life as if yours is the only perspective that matters, as if your reality is the only truth, then you are destined to make a fool of yourself sometime, somewhere, somehow.


If you must be a frog in a well, at least keep your big mouth shut.

(HM's take on it: don't talk to bimbos.)

A Totally Random Thought

As we stride around
Purposeful in our busy lives
Prance around
Giddyheaded in our excitement
Are we mindful of the
Ants we step on?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

No Smoke Without Fire

No, this isn't about you, my Narnian friends, lol.

Both are guilty of the same,
The pot calling the kettle black.
If I knocked both their heads together,
Would I get sparks?
And if I did,
What would ignite?
Tempting, to say the least.

Brain Pain

My head hurts
Not like yours perhaps
But from too many words
Flooding in,
Too many ideas
Rushing to get out
The exit door.
A little help, puh-lease...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Food for Thought

It's amazing what one can come up with in the middle of the night, when insomnia strikes. Thanks, wzb, for the push.

Intention or action –
Which matters more?
Does the failure to act
On an ill intention
Absolve one from sin?
Is a good intention sufficient
When its consequence goes awry?
If we do it for all the wrong reasons,
Does it still count?
Do the ends ever really justify the means?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Relativity I

I have always liked this one.

To realise the value of one year,
Ask a student who has failed in his exam.

To realise the value of one month,
Ask the mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realise the value of one week,
Ask the editor of a weekly magazine.

To realise the value of one hour,
Ask two friends who are eagerly waiting to meet.

To realise the value of one minute,
Ask the person who missed the train.

To realise the value of one second,
Ask the person who survived an accident.

To realise the value of one millisecond,
Ask the person who missed the gold medal in the Olympics.

by anonymous

Relativity II

What value do you place
On friendship, I wonder
When you favour
Simpering attentions over
Honest answers
Fleeting flattery over
Faith well kept.

Dross over gold –
Why settle for less?

Pearls before swine
I am tempted to say.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Go On, Jump

Don’t you just hate it when people do this…

A: Hey I really really need your help. Could you help me with this?

B: (thinks to herself):

Oh dear how do I help her with this?
I'm already struggling to finish my work
And I have already agreed to help X with that.
But this is not the first time she's asked me for help
And I've turned her down.
She must think I'm very unhelpful.
If only she had asked me a little earlier.
Wait, let me think - there must some way I can help her...

B frowns and turns away.

A (thinks to herself):

She is unwilling to help.
I’ve seen her help others. Why not me?
It must mean she doesn’t like me.
This means she only helps those she likes – she’s not a nice person after all!

A: Never mind forget it. (walks away) Bitch…

Sometimes it doesn’t end there…

B: Oh hey remember that favour you asked me for? Yeah, I can do it…

A (thinks to herself):

She’s not a nice person – she only helps those she likes.
Why is she offering to help now?
Oh I know – she must want something from me.
This means she only helps those she likes or those who can help her – she’s REALLY a bitch.
If she’s a bitch, I don’t have to feel bad about taking advantage of her.

A: Wah, you’re so nice. Why don’t you help me with this other thing as well? You’re so good at these things.

Now, who’s the bitch?

Moral of the story: Look, before you leap… to a bad conclusion.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Small Mercies

That other silence, I explained
To you.
You could have called.
You didn't.
Then again you noticed,
At least.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The silence explained...

What luxury -
The space to mull over
The time to dialogue
To debate, to discourse
With oneself, with others.
By the end of each day
No words remain to be said.

Friday, January 20, 2006


In the end
Our trains arrived at the same time
And left almost simultaneously.
How serendipitous
For me –
No looking back longingly
At your receding figure on the platform
No peering pensively at your train
Fast fading into the darkness.
We may yet chance upon each other again
Another day, another platform
Our paths may cross once more
Another lifetime
It matters not
Our time has past.
In the end
Your train was bound for a new destination.
Mine, headed for home

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Game, Set, Match…
It’s over.
The winner takes it all,
The losers - there were
Three in all.
One felt sick
It wasn’t me.
I tell you this because,
How it loves company,

Yes, k, these things take time
But for now
Not even a twinge
Equilibrium reached
For now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What's Yours?

From the Quizilla website:
Your Daemon, as in the Philip Pullman series His Dark Materials, is a physical manifestation of part of your soul - it is your intimate companion, and comforter, and it is that little voice inside your head. Its gender is usually the opposite of yours, although some people have a daemon of the same sex. It always takes the form of an animal.

My Daemon!

RAVEN - Your daemon may be a member of the crow
family. You are intelligent, observant, and
gregarious. Just as a crow or raven picks shiny
objects out of the dirt, you pick up tidbits of
information or ideas and store them away. You
have a good sense of humour, but sometimes lose
patience with people who are antipathic to your
nature. You are swift to alert others when you
find the truth, and you have no tolerance for
those who would hide it.

HM's Daemon, hehe!

CAT - your daemon may be a cat if you are
independent and comfort loving. You follow your
heart and do what you want to do - no matter
what others think. You have a strong sense of
your own worth, and an inner dignity. You may
be loving and generous in one moment, and then
lash out at someone in the next. You have as
many moods as there are colours in a rainbow,
and you wear them all brilliantly. You always
know what you want right now - although in five
minutes you may change your mind and set your
sights elsewhere. You like to do things with
style and flair. When someone else orders you to do something, do
you feel an unholy urge to do exactly the
opposite? That just might be your inner daemon

What Is Your Daemon?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Forgive them.
No longer children,
Not yet men/women,
They know not what they do.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Christmas

you're only as happy as you want to be.
be happy,
i remind myself
and you.

Monday, December 19, 2005

An Honest Whine

In the words of my vocabulary-challenged students, competition sucks, but collaboration isn’t an option in this case – there can only be one winner – so it seems I must compete. Like any sore loser, I hate competing when I don’t stand a chance of winning. What competition – the odds have been stacked against me from Day 1. Of course, more likely than not, the competition exists only in my mind; I doubt if anyone else involved considers me a contestant, let alone a worthy one. Chances are, I was ruled ineligible from the start anyway, by accident of birth no less (I wave my fist in indignation).

So why can’t I leave well enough alone and walk away into the sunset, like the proverbial hero in cowboy westerns? I have after all lived my life thus far NOT playing by the rules, opting out of the rat race to slave in a bookstore when everyone else was climbing the corporate ladder, quitting the arts scene just when it was becoming an acceptable way to earn a living and kinder to the pocket too, choosing to teach blood-sucking monsters (and loving it!) when others were leaving the scene in droves. Hmmm, so maybe I am perverse. Where logic dictates that I walk away, I walk the other way…

Perhaps I should do what entrepreneurs do and redefine the competition, you know, rise above the situation, rewrite the rules, create demand where there is none. In simple terms, this translates into: Can’t be the boyfriend? Be the chauffeur, the shoulder to cry on, the joker. Can’t be the girlfriend? Be the gift-picker, the stylist, the agony aunt. And, specially for fag hags or fruit flies (terms I use with great affection), can’t be the girlfriend? (Of course not, don’t be silly!) Be the shopping sister, the mahjong kaki, the bitching partner.

With luck, one becomes Apple, only 2.5% of market share worldwide (for personal computers) but the way sexier option. The desired effect one wants to create is the wistful look, the “I wish had the money/opportunity/guts/fill-in-appropriate-factor to choose you” feeling. To achieve this, one must avoid the “spare tire” syndrome at all costs. Unfortunately, in the drive to create demand, one can overcompensate by being too easily available. God forbid one ends up becoming a generic PC, far too easily replaceable by another Sim Lim Square lookalike.

So how does one acquire the allure and mystique of an iBook, an iPOD? If I succeed, I’ll tell you, my readers. Your advice is most welcome in the meantime. Peace out lol.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Invasion of the Body Snatcher(s)

I am not myself...

Brain taken over by
Flights of fantasy,
Flickering images looped
Like a movie on endless playback.

Momentary respite:
Ho Chi Minh,
City of a million motorbikes –
Peace ironically.
Days filled with
Never-ending hustle and bustle
Lungs saturated with
Overwhelming exhaust fumes
Ears inundated by
Incessant noise
Eyes swamped by
Perpetual movement of
A burgeoning cityscape,
Not a moment
or a braincell to spare
At least till night fell.

Back home once again
Helpless against
The memories
Enthralled by
Illicit moments
Surreptitiously yet
Shamelessly stolen.

Once again
Exhausted by
Sweet intoxication.


Thursday, December 01, 2005


I'm beginning to hear voices lol...

Some of us think holding on makes us strong
but sometimes it is letting go.
- Herman Hesse

Love is never lost.
If not reciprocated, it will flow back
and soften and purify the heart.
– Washington Irving

There is always some madness in love.
But there is also always some reason in madness.
–Friedrich Nietzsche

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
– H. L. Mencken

Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke.
– Lynda Barry

To be brave is to love someone unconditionally,
without expecting anything in return. To just give.
That takes courage, because we don't want to fall
on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.
– Madonna

Fitting last words, how apt...

Love: a grave mental disease.
– Plato

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Phantom Speaks, in Prose

“I gave you my music
Made your song take wing
And now, how you've
Repaid me, denied me
And betrayed me.
He was bound to love you
When he heard you sing.”

From the musical, The Phantom of the Opera, by Andrew Lloyd Webber. For the full libretto, check this out. For the synopsis based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, this is the Wikipedia link.

Curses, cried the Phantom.
Am I so repulsive,
The monster fronting the man?
Who says I have no right
To take the Beauty
Even if I’m the Beast?

Damn it, spat the Phantom.
Why am I drawn to talent
Like a moth to a burning flame?
Why should I mould you, shape you
With the power that lies in my hands
So that insipid fools like him
Can dry your tears?

Don’t pity me, snarled the Phantom.
You know you belong to me.
Deny me if you must
But look me in the face,
This face!
I will not fade away.
I claim my rightful place as the Other.

He is Raoul to her Christine
And here I reprise my role
For the umpteenth time.
My life as a musical cliché is
A repetitive motif,
Sadly, nay, pathetically so.

On Thin Ice

A 44-year old man and his 9-year old daughter died on an ice-skating trip at a small pond in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. She fell through the ice and he fell in while trying to rescue her. The snow was falling.

"There is no such thing as safe ice.” – Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Opgenorth

And yet I choose to skate
Believing as Emerson did
That safety is in the speed.
Faster and faster I go
Till it all becomes a blur.
The snow falls -
A blanket of prettiness
Obscures what cautionary signs there are.
I wrap myself
In a cocoon of falsehoods
Blithely ignoring impending doom
Till I fall through, with a crash.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


As defined in the dictionary
They only say so much.

“I don’t like you.”
You scare me.
I scare myself.
What will others say?

“Don’t go.”
I don’t want to be alone here
I’ve forgotten what it is like.

“I love you.”
Right now at least.
I don’t love anyone else.

They could mean something else
Or nothing at all.
Sometimes silence says more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Today, instead of working
I thought instead.

Instead of work
I thought of
All the meals I have yet to wrap my tastebuds around
The tastes
The textures
The smells.

Today, instead of dreaming
I thought instead.

Instead of dreams
I thought of
All the images I have yet to capture
The colours
The angles
The composition.

Today, instead of wanting
I thought instead.

Instead of wants
I thought of
All the books I have yet to read
All the movies I have yet to watch
All the songs I have yet to sing
All the stories I have yet to hear, and tell
All the conversations I have yet to have
All the coffee I have yet to savour
All the walks I have yet to take
All the landscapes I have yet to lay my eyes on
All the art I have yet to appreciate
All the hugs I have yet to give
All the smiles I have yet to share
All the people I have yet to love
All the breaths I have yet to take
All the things I have yet to be thankful for

Today, instead of now
I thought of
All the life I have yet to live.

I am smiling, now.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Conundrum, Conundrums

How does one explain to the naïve that
All that glitters is not gold
That fair can be foul, and foul fair
And not every guy on a white horse
Wears a white suit?

How does one explain to the paranoid that
A gift by definition, is just that, a gift
No strings attached
That love, whatever the impetus, is still love
And that there are some people one can trust
No matter what?

How does one explain to the cynical that
Giving is better than receiving
That choosing to be used is the best way to
Avoid being used
And not being loved is no reason
Not to love?

How does one explain that
There are worse things in life to owe than money
That people are more than the sum of their functions
And denying a relationship exists does not in fact
Obliterate it?

If you know how, tell me.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Seeing Things

You will never be
Who I want you to be
You aren't even who
You want yourself to be.
Are you a figment
Of my imagination,
The product of your fantasies,
Or the other way around?
If you exist only in our minds
We're both chasing
The shadow of a dream.

Service with a Smile

I can't be
Who you want me to be, then
I will be
What you want me to be
In my own way.
Will that be all
For today?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Falling in Love

Those who have lived life a little and loved a lot will know what I’m talking about :)

Love defies all
You can choose to love
But Cupid’s arrows fall
Where they please
(Cheesy but true)
Singaporeans put it best
Bak chew tak stamp hor?

It Takes Two Hands

Like walking on egg shells
We tiptoed carefully
Avoiding the pitfalls
In tacit agreement
Playing give and take
Traversing the landscape of
Life and love
For two hours
In three months
We concurred.
The sound of two hands clapping?

Friday, October 28, 2005


So bitter
The gall of it all
Eating away at one’s insides
Gnawing away at all that is
Good and kind and pure
Disfiguring all that is beautiful

Sugar is but
Temporary solution
Artificial sweetener is
Or shit-inducing
Honey is
Good but
Nothing like love and light to fill
Every crevice,
Every nook
Every cranny of the heart
So that there is no space for

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What's in a Name

You flatter me,
You do.
You called me bitch,
Didn't you?
Well, I'm in good company,
I can tell.
Gurl, ain't you bitchin' too?
LOL, you're one as well!
So what's next,
Pray tell?
Bitch slap fest?
That would be like
So bitchin'!!
But it won't be necessary
To play that lame blame game.
I like the name,
The moniker,
The epithet;
You should too.
Embrace your inner bitch, gurl
Power reclaimed.

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way
So take me as I am
- from "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Back to Square One?

This was actually written two days ago, but only published today due to shortage of time.

One step forward
Two steps back
No standing still
Sadly, no turning back.
That way lies madness,
But a moment’s reprieve,
If you please.
From the constant struggle to
Close one’s eyes and
Turn one’s back.