Forget and Smile

I have been memorising poems recently. Or at least trying to anyway. I did it as a way of making my days go by faster — spending time trying to memorise poems instead of thinking of home makes army life that much more tolerable.

I borrowed poem anthologies from the library, not quite looking out for any particular genre or theme, but more hoping serendipity would do its work, and lead me to poems that might affect me in a way I would not understand, but appreciate.

I came across popular poems like If (by Rudyard Kipling) and The Road Not Taken (by Robert Frost), as well as less popular ones like Toilet (by Hugo Williams).

Four lines of Kipling’s If helped me in my Army Half-Marathon run:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

Frost’s The Road Not Taken reminds me to take risk, to divert from the crowd, while Williams’ Toilet just made me smile.

Then there was a poem that came along that reminded me of a past love, R. This poem is by Christina Rossetti, entitled Remember:

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

The fact that the poem is about love lost (or about to) was not all the affected me. Another association that it brought about was that of the song, I Will Remember You, by Sarah McLachlan, which I had played countless times while deep in thought with R on my mind.

Oh, how I long to just forget her and smile.

Hugo Williams’ Toilet

Toilet

A Poem by Hugo Williams

Seems the theme for edonn.com this week appears to be poetry, so here’s another:

I wonder will I speak to the girl
sitting opposite me on this train.
I wonder will my mouth open and say,
‘Are you going all the way
to Newcastle?’ or ‘Can I get you a coffee?’
Or will it simply go ‘aaaaah’
as if it had a mind of its own?

Half closing eggshell blue eyes,
she runs her hand through her hair
so that it clings to the carriage cloth,
then slowly frees itself.
She finds a brush and her long fair hair
flies back and forth like an African fly-whisk,
making me feel dizzy.

Suddenly, without warning,
she packs it all away in a rubber band
because I have forgotten to look out
the window for a moment.
A coffee is granted permission
to pass between her lips
and does so eagerly, without fuss.

A tunnel finds us looking out the window
into one another’s eyes. She leaves her seat,
but I know that she likes me
because the light saying ‘TOILET’
has come on, a sign that she is lifting
her skirt, taking down her pants
and peeing all over my face.

Hugo Williams' Toilet

Toilet

A Poem by Hugo Williams

Seems the theme for edonn.com this week appears to be poetry, so here’s another:

I wonder will I speak to the girl
sitting opposite me on this train.
I wonder will my mouth open and say,
‘Are you going all the way
to Newcastle?’ or ‘Can I get you a coffee?’
Or will it simply go ‘aaaaah’
as if it had a mind of its own?

Half closing eggshell blue eyes,
she runs her hand through her hair
so that it clings to the carriage cloth,
then slowly frees itself.
She finds a brush and her long fair hair
flies back and forth like an African fly-whisk,
making me feel dizzy.

Suddenly, without warning,
she packs it all away in a rubber band
because I have forgotten to look out
the window for a moment.
A coffee is granted permission
to pass between her lips
and does so eagerly, without fuss.

A tunnel finds us looking out the window
into one another’s eyes. She leaves her seat,
but I know that she likes me
because the light saying ‘TOILET’
has come on, a sign that she is lifting
her skirt, taking down her pants
and peeing all over my face.

Singaporean Kamikaze

Three men were charged under the Sedition Act with making racist comments on the Internet in Singapore last week.

I just can’t help thinking, perhaps these people wanted to get caught. Maybe they were willing to go to jail, if that meant that more people would read what they wrote.

Like suicide bombers, or Japanese Kamikaze pilots, these people were willing to crash and burn if it achieved their objectives — in this case, spread the message of hate.

And guess what? We helped them.

Those Winter Sundays

I came across this poem called Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden while going through a poem anthology. I thought it was beautiful, and hope you will find it so, too.

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

It reminds us of how much love our parents, or our loved ones in general, do so much for us without us ever knowing it.

They live in this world, do small, loving things for us, and leave this world.

The World is Indifferent

It was a beautiful day. Outside was bright, but not too hot due to frequent passing clouds — yet these clouds hinted nothing whatsoever about rain; they were, how do you put it? clouds that said, “here’s temporary relief from the scorching sun; but no, we won’t bring rain, don’t worry!”

I.

“Mom, I’m going for soccer!” said Henry.

“Okay dear. Remember to come back for dinner!”

“Yup. See ya.” With that, Henry exited his home and proceeded to the soccer field across the road. Unfortunately, as he prepared to cross the road, he was knocked down by a driver who had a little too much to drink.

II.

“James, I’m going to see the client now. Hopefully we’ll get the deal this time! Haha,” laughed Robert.

“Yeah, nail that sucker, Rob. You know we need this.”

“Heh, yeah, I’ll get it, don’t worry. Do whatever it takes!”

Robert proceeded to have lunch with his client.

“Thank you for joining us in this project Mr. Rum! Here’s to our working together in the future; cheers!”

“Damn, I’m late for my date with Jess!” Robert thought to himself.

“Excuse me Mr. Rum, I really have to go. Again, thank you so much!”

And Robert headed back to his car.

“She’ll be so excited to hear that I clinched the deal!”

“Woah,” exclaimed Robert as he stumbled back to his car, feeling the effects his drinking with the client had on him.

“Better take a cab. Jess would kill me if she knew I drove in this state.”

Robert approached the road side and tried to hail a cab. But after 20 minutes of waiting without seeing one, decided to drive instead.

“F*cking cabs. Always there when you don’t need them, always gone when you do.”

Robert started the engine, and carefully reversed his way out of the parking spot. As he was driving to Jess’s place, a dog suddenly ran onto the road; Robert instinctively swerved to the left, not noticing a boy standing at the edge of the road getting ready to cross.

III.

The boy, Henry, was killed instantly. Robert was sent to prison. After his release, haunted by his guilt, he remained a bitter man. He never recovered.

Yet, the world is indifferent.

Today is a beautiful day. Outside is bright, but not too hot due to frequent passing clouds — yet these clouds hint nothing whatsoever about rain; they are, how do you put it? clouds that say, “here’s temporary relief from the scorching sun; but no, we won’t bring rain, don’t worry!”

Also read

  1. eDonn.com Article: “World vs Me
  2. Download Sid.mp3 (307 KB), a song I created using the poem I wrote from the article “World vs Me”.