Tag Archives: loneliness

Drip

In the deep silk night you sit alone

Cold drops of time on the curve of your skin

You pull the sheets to your chest

Shaking ripe with cold

Hear the empty wine glass rolling,

Pendulum-like, on the wood floor –

That’s the sound of your mind

tiring with thought

Perhaps now, you’ll find a place inside

Where you can dream of seasides and autumn trees

And there, settle yourself and close everything

For a long, long time

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Heartbeat

We’ll always be picking up the pieces
Caught wading through the wreckage
Violent colours, scattered thought
A train run off the tracks under a starlit sky
And someone’s child taken into the night
You smoke on the rubble, I dig deep. Ask –
Is there a way to eviscerate the body of its memory?
The nagging, clawing, teeth and bones in you
Something creeping silent beneath the surface
which has no name, but which suffuses your dreams
Where you run from your pursuer, numb
Over fire, the rails, the space only you know

All this light

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There was so much gold beyond the veranda today, it made me ache to be outside. I walked a short distance down the road, feeling dwarfed by the trees. It would only be for a short while. These days it does not rain, but somehow the air is always cool. There’s something about the transience of the light and the coolness of the air on my skin that has made the days seem so surreal. I felt immediately soothed, walking and breathing and looking up to the bright sky beyond the high, heavy branches of trees.

It’s a painfully bright world, one that keeps spinning on. Most days I just don’t know how to feel my place in it. There is no substance or form to my thoughts and feelings these days, unsettling though they may be. They whistle through my mind like the wind in the leaves. And often I just feel deeply tired inside. The world is big and golden and there, yet I have nothing to grab hold of, nowhere to find rest. The days, they slowly warm me, and also make me shiver with every breath.

I don’t know what it is about Christmas

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Beginning the 25 days of advent

I decide I should go on a diet

A perhaps method of making myself

A little more impressive and less bumbling

Through these festive meetings

and festive feelings.


Yesterday peppermint candy cane latte misted my eyes while

I babbled; thinking perhaps a good Christmas gift would be my

Absent sense of sophistication.

My friends’ eyes float innocently to their phones.

And I tag their faces accordingly.

One, editing photos. The other, arranging a date

The third, possibly discussing his

community Christmas gift drive.

I sink in my self-subjected isolation

Lulled by seasonal lullabies.

Outside the window, light vanishes into light


And every snowflake is in fact a character of its own

Dendrical, sectored, rimed or radiating

I shiver with the realization that the white kisses on my skin are each

A cold morphology, like myself

Frozen in change.

Above me the sky is soft grey and gentle lights line the street,

A reminder of tenderness, or its absence.

I blink back bewildered tears as a

blanket of cold finds me, assuring

It’s not a sin to be weaving through them

with nothing in my hands


concentrationAfter my little depressive bout last week I set my mind to getting some errands done to ease my inertia. Familiar songs and familiar smells of Christmas are all about now. I have a few short weeks to revise (or rather to start and finish studying) the semester’s work, lose enough weight to fit into a pair of pants and get my body and mind fit enough before I head for the ski slopes and then to London. The annual year-end fix yourself challenge.

Better Medicine

 Perhaps a train ride

Would make for better medicine

This sleeplessness

Is of a relentless kind.

 

Question: Do cracks speak?

At the yellow line you pause

Perhaps you were born in a hushed hour

In your bones the land throbs with loss

 

Outside, everything recedes

Inside, it’s fuzzy and royal blue

Mind the gap, they say

Or your thoughts will kill you

 

You see double in the window

It’s you, your eyes like stars

In this running black sky

Ink with which to write your scars

 

Maybe there’ll be roses

Dream pink, without thorns

Even as the light within you

swallows you

And you enter into the morn

 

Perhaps, perhaps these tracks

Will run faster than the words on your skin

If so,

It would make for far better medicine

Better medicine than this

Other Things by Alvin Pang

Other Things

To buy a potted plant is to admit both faithlessness and need. To water the plant, perhaps daily, perhaps once in a while when you remember and the leaves start to droop, is as close to love as it gets.

Other things mean other things.

To light a lamp is to hide darkness in the same closet as sleep, along with silence, desire, and yesterday’s obsessions. To read a book is to marry two solitudes, the way a conversation erases and erects, words prepare for wordlessness, a cloud for its own absence, and snow undresses for spring.

The bedroom is where you left it, although the creases and humps on the sheets no longer share your outline and worldview. In that way, they are like the children you never had time for.

A cooking pot asks the difficult questions: what will burn and for how long and to what end.

TV comes from the devil who comes from god who comes and goes as he pleases. To hide the remote control in someone’s house is clearly a sin, but to take the wrong umbrella home is merely human.

The phone is too white to be taunting you. The door you shut stays shut. The night is reason enough for tomorrow, whatever you believe.

Remember, the car keys will be there after the dance. Walls hold peace as much as distance. A kettle is not reason enough for tears.

The correct answer to a mirror is always, yes.

– Alvin Pang

(This poem balances whimsy and lonely so nicely, I feel like I can read it over and over again for a long time.)

Quiet nights in the living room. I’ve been kicked out of the bedroom. The dog blinks from under the sofa, disturbed by my presence but too polite to do anything about it. I can feel time passing around me, time stored in all these familiar shadows, familiar paraphernalia. Only the dog has full access to all our scent traces – the places where our baby hands marked these same objects. Your things remain where you leave them, although like the sheets in the bedroom, they no longer share your outline and worldview. Like the children you never had time for. 

The dog himself has matts near his collar, his toe-nails are always tapping the vinyl floor until once in a while we remember to trim them. On the table a terrarium that never gets sprayed until we recall it is there, as close to love as it gets. 

I often think it would be nice to pick up the phone and be able to call someone, to ask: how am I supposed to sleep, where am I meant to go, and who will love me now? The phone is too white to be taunting you. Instead I wonder around the kitchen, staring into cupboards looking for satiety. Left on the stove for the people who didn’t eat dinner, a cooking pot asks the difficult questions: what will burn and for how long and to what end. Of course my questions won’t actually be said, they will only linger, the only question is with whom? Words prepare for wordlessness, a cloud for its own absence. 

Unable to accept rest, I linger on the couch with a book, bookmarking its pages with tears. To read a book is to marry two solitudes. Perhaps my author also wrote in tears. I have to stop crying and being so terribly small and seeing hurt everywhere if not I’ll never be able to sleep. The night is reason enough for tomorrow, whatever you believe. I wash my face, say a prayer, look in the mirror. Mirrors always ask too many questions, but the correct answer… is always, yes.

Good night.

Rewind to June

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Inhabiting a new place is like slipping into a fresh mould. When you leave, it is not just a place you leave behind, but a state of mind, a state of self. At the point you realise this, how different and at the same time how familiar the skin you are wearing feels – that is the point where you are first displaced from yourself. It is in this way that the more places we inhabit, the more we feel how little we have in common with ourselves.

***

It was a common thing to hear from my friends who had returned with me from the UK for summer, how different they felt, being home. There’s a feeling which we don’t really have a word for – the feeling of being transplanted from one place to another. It’s not just about traveling, for in this case both places are each in their own way, home. We spoke of the feeling of “wearing a different skin”, the surreality of it, and the initial frustration of it.

Now looking back, the month of June is all a blank to me. It’s almost as though the brain tries its best to wipe out that which makes you uncomfortable. I only remember feeling suffocated and awkward at home, and disconcerted by certain current events at the time – a sickening pull back to reality.

October, and I’ve had half a term in a new school, and been sufficiently sucked into the black hole of endless work that it’s difficult for me to retrieve the feels that floated around in my mind in London.  My friends have returned to the UK, and after the initial shock of another teleport, they have settled in and are busily going about their daily affairs. I suppose at this point it is appropriate to put a stop to further reminiscence, and that is fine with me. I do wish though, like I wished when I came back, weak and frustrated, that I could find some source of inner strength – a way to go through the day with a smile, and be a support to others as well as myself.

Are there words that can do that for you?

I’ll be home for Christmas

I’ll be home for Christmas. And frankly, I’m not too sure how I feel about that. When I first came here I kept counting down the weeks to going home “9 weeks, 8, 7, 6, 5…” and then the excitement stopped there. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten so used to life here. I was so pleased looking at the weather forecast and seeing that the temperature will remain comfortably around 8 degrees for the week, when before I would have been freezing at twice that temperature. Though I’ll never pass on an opportunity to eat Asian food, I don’t crave it as much. Neither do I daydream about the Singapore landscape anymore.

But I do suspect there’s something more to it.

I don’t think I’ve changed much. Except being in a new environment, and living a much less cluttered life did mellow me a lot, and I spent a lot more time looking inside myself than before. I have friends who have shared similar sentiments – being here, your life becomes a lot “cleaner”, and you become a lot more in touch with those feelings you couldn’t feel in Singapore, where every day is about doing and doing and not stopping to think much.

And perhaps, I guess, that’s where my reluctance to go home comes from. Coming here was like opening the door to my heart and realising that behind the door were rooms and rooms of accumulated rubbish that I never knew existed. And then realising that I will never move forward as a person until I can deal with all of that. I have to go back in order to go forward. But boy, is that thought terrifying.

So there is part one of my answer. The other part is difficult to explain. Suffice it to say that not only do I not want to go back, but I also have reasons to want to stay. Maybe this is how people feel when they run away from home – not just that you want to run away, but that you’ve found a place you can run to. But I am not so deluded yet that I think running away will save me.

Have I lost you there? I’m sorry. I think I can put it a lot more simply. It’s a common affliction; it’s the struggle for love – wanting so badly to be loved and looking for it in all the wrong places, and each time only becoming more acutely aware that this isn’t really what you want, yet not quite knowing where else to go. That’s all.

I’m really not sure what’s going to happen when I go home. So far the only thing I’ve decided on doing is Muay Thai, because I feel a strong desire to punch something, and also, eating a lot of green tea parfaits. But well, this might actually be interesting. And perhaps, more comforting than I’m expecting it to be. One must always remain optimistic, for things are never as bad as they seem. We’ll take this a step at a time. Going home, I realise now, is not a break from my journey, it’s a part of it.

sparkling eyesTo anyone else heading home this Christmas with mixed feelings – Don’t be afraid, keep calm and carry on. All is well, and all will be well (:

We stood and watched

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We stood and watched the city lights

Diamond giants in a starless sky

Pulsing razor fluorescent streaks

Swirled the shadows at our feet

In the tingling, slipping rain

Hazy, we listened to the waterscape

And felt sweet sighs of phantom stars

Breathe a promise in the deep of our hearts

Should we board the evening ship and drift away

They would guide us to world’s end, where the crystal ocean sways

And when we awake, the planets will there remain

Singing a song, the celestial refrain

That had been flowing through the heavens all along

Even after the last listening ears were gone

I felt we lost ourselves that night

As we stood and watched the city lights

“What is a friend? Someone who for the first time makes you aware of your loneliness and his, and helps you to escape so you in turn can help him. Thanks to him you can hold your tongue without shame and talk freely without risk. That’s it.” – Elie Wiesel

 

Side notes:

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More AA-BB rhyming!

Clumsy poetry aside, I kinda miss bright city streets and high rise buildings. Especially now that the sun sets at 4pm in London.

I often have images of the bright, busy, tree-lined and often rainy streets of Singapore. And I look back wistfully to the time before school started and the memories I collected, talking endlessly and walking aimlessly with friends and family along them.

It’s so silly really, how much of my mental life is lived in retrospect and anticipation. But it does make the times when I am actually able to return to the present moment so much more special.

Much Ado About Beatrice (and me)

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“For, out of question, you were born in a merry hour

No, sure, my lord, my mother cried;

But then there was a star danced and under that was I born”

~ Much Ado About Nothing

 

I love Much Ado About Nothing because I love Beatrice. She’s a heroine to me because she’s a girl disenchanted but still spirited – a girl with a dancing star, in a night sky that blindly runs on.

She’s been disappointed by men and disillusioned with marriage. She can’t describe her birth as a merry affair.

But she has enough magic in her heart and magic in her words to be glad of life, and wakes herself with laughter after a bad dream.

It takes her kind of strength to realise that there’s no such thing as a fairy tale life, and yet smile, and yet chide, and know life must go on.

People ask me if I’m homesick. I really don’t think I am, yet. The fact that I have to go around asking people what it feels like to be homesick probably proves it so.

But both at home and in London, there have been strange, confused nights where I feel the grief I think Beatrice must have known – the grief of looking back to a disappointing past and looking forward to a lonely future and wondering if all of life is just a mistake.

But when the moon is high in the late night sky, I dry my tears, wash my face and look myself in the mirror, and sometimes really can’t help but smile. Messed up as my mirror image is, I realise I do know who I am, after all. The me that has been, and will always be. I am too, an undying spirit. I am not so much a gentle spirit, as some would envision, for mine is like the soldiering waters. And I have enough faith and enough magic left to keep me going, no matter what’s around the river bend. A star danced, and under that was I born.

 

[Edit: I’m a little shy about this post now because its so emotionally raw. But I guess we all have times when we get down and life seems terribly depressing. And time I crafted this was one of those moments for me. I guess hope, like faith, comes and goes a hundred times an hour. And that’s what makes life so bittersweet.]