Poetry

Ruminate

I like to sit with naught to do
Without a plan, no thing or two
I like to sit
To sit and wait
And do no more than ruminate

The sky ahead—my mirror specs
I turn to that which all reflects
Just like it does
I too must do
And turn over a thing or two

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Prose

Tomorrow

He saw her sitting on the parapet, legs dangling lifelessly in the moist spring air, inadvertently waving to passers-by 20 floors below. He’d seen her before—she lived in 2D, the apartment below the one he was renting. She had beautiful eyes, he knew. Beautiful, sad eyes, which were now fixed on a point in the not-too-distant future when at last she would fly.

So we’re here for the same reason, he thought.

He walked up to her. He wasn’t sure if she had noticed. Her eyes—those beautiful, sad eyes—continued staring absently into the open skies.

“Hey! I’ve seen you before. I live one floor above you,” he said.

After a moment’s hesitation, he added, “Do you want to talk?”

For the first time now she made eye contact with him, yet her lips remained motionless and her face unreadable.

“I think we might be here for the same reason,” he said in a slightly shyer tone, his head dropping low as he did.

She turned towards him, hesitantly, with a thoughtful, measuring look.

“You’re here to end the pain?”

“Yes, I suppose that’s one way of putting it,” he agreed.

“How would you put it?” she wondered.

“I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. I never thought about it much.”

“Didn’t you leave a note for, you know, family and friends?”

“Not really,” he admitted. “No family. And as for friends, I doubt if I even have any. Real friends, you know?”

She nodded in slow motion.

“Yes, I can understand that,” she said at last. Her manner suggested there was more to follow.

“My friends all live so far away. And I have a love-hate relationship with my family. But I thought it’d be good to leave them a note, just so they can get some closure.”

“That’s very thoughtful of you.”

A hint of a smile spread across her face. Her features now appeared softer, more vulnerable. He felt something inside him give way.

She sensed it, too, and quickly put up her defenses.

“You know you’re not going to change my mind,” she said as her face turned back to face the void.

“I don’t intend to,” he assured her. “I’m pretty determined myself, you know. I’ve given this a lot of thought.”

“Yes, so have I.”

They both sat quietly. He spoke first.

“Do you mind if I tell you a bit about my life?” Pause. “I mean, I don’t suppose it matters much now anyway. Still, I feel it’d be good to have someone to talk to—even if it’s just for a few moments.”

“I suppose so.” Her face betrayed a hidden warmth. “Perhaps you’d better start at the beginning.”

That evening, he told her of his childhood, growing up, moving to the big city, college, and work. By the time he was finished, she knew more about him than anyone ever had.

She listened patiently, compassionately. She never interrupted him. She never flinched or recoiled. She just sat and was present.

At last, the late hour of the night was starting to have its effect on him. He checked his watch and looked at her remorsefully.

“I’ve been talking about myself all this time. I’m so sorry. That’s rather selfish of me, I assume.”

“It’s OK,” she said. “I don’t mind. I actually quite enjoyed it. Perhaps I could tell you my story, too,” she suggested. “But it’s much too late now. Maybe we can just put it off until tomorrow.”

“I’d like that,” he said.

“Tomorrow night, same time, same place?” she asked.

He smiled in agreement.

The next evening, he found her on the rooftop again. She was leaning against the parapet, wrapped in a fleece blanket, the evening breeze lifting strands of her hair like a curious child.

“I made myself comfortable,” she announced simply when she noticed him. “The other night was a bit chilly.”

He smiled.

“I’ve been thinking all day about what I should tell you—where to start and how to convey it all in a way that makes sense. You did such an outstanding job last night. I feel like my story is going to sound much more chaotic and the events of my life a lot more opaque, I’m afraid.”

“I’m not here to tell you how to tell your story,” he reassured her. “I’m here to listen—just like you did yesterday.”

She measured him cautiously with her eyes, pursing her lips momentarily.

“Very well, then. I’m going to give you a series of scenes from my life, if you don’t mind. They might seem disconnected at first, but I promise you there’s a thread that holds them together. I mean, there’s got to be one, doesn’t it?”

He tuned his ear to her voice and listened, occasionally interjecting, sometimes stirring, but mostly just nodding slowly, thoughtfully. His face changed with each scene. Its initial curiosity gave way to sadness, then concern, frustration, and shock. This soon melted and he bounced back to curiosity, then understanding, and—finally—amazement.

“This might sound strange, but I think I want to say that I am very proud of you,” he managed to get out at last.

She tilted her head slightly. Her face was as inscrutable as it had been the day before.

“Perhaps you misunderstood my story?” she suggested after a while.

“On the contrary,” he argued, “I think I understood it better than if you had told it the same way I told mine.”

“I’m not sure about that,” she said in a quieter tone. She seemed—what?—a little perplexed? Or was it just his imagination?

“Why don’t we give it another try tomorrow,” he proposed. “I’ll tell you what I’ve heard and you can tell me if I got it right. What do you think?”

She nodded, got up, and walked off, eyeing him curiously. He couldn’t help but smile again. “That’s the second time I’ve smiled today,” he observed. He left equally baffled.

The next evening, he brought a thermos with tea. “To keep us warm and hydrated,” he explained.

She motioned him to sit down. “What did you mean yesterday?” she asked without any preamble. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day.”

“That makes it two days in a row,” he quipped.

That night he told her how he understood her story. The next night, she explained to him how she made sense of his narrative. He’d brought tea, she’d brought some cookies. They shared the blanket. When the conversation ended, they both stared over the parapet at the endless rows of high-rises that spread out before them.

“Well, I guess that’s it,” he said when they had sat down without a word for some ten minutes. “It’s been good talking to you.”

Her eyes were watery. They sat together in silence for another ten minutes. Then, at last, she spoke.

“I don’t know what to say,” she attempted, hesitantly. “When I came here the first night, I was convinced there was nothing but pain in this life. Pain I could not imagine living with for the rest of my life.”

She paused.

“The pain is still there, but somehow… It doesn’t weigh me down so much. It doesn’t feel so overwhelming. I’m not sure what it means.”

He looked her in the eye.

“Perhaps we don’t need to decide right now. Tomorrow?”

She nodded as she watched him leave.

Standard
Poetry

A tree in a forest

A tree in a forest, a fish in the sea
A pea in a pod, a hive-dwelling bee
Surrounded by others, each one just like me,
Searching and yearning for someplace to be

We stand, and we swim, and we sit, and we fly
Never quite still—goodness knows why
Unable to stop, reluctant to cry
Hoping that somehow the living won’t die

Like trees in a forest, like bees in a hive
Each one so hopeful, yet barely alive
Like peas in a pod, like sea-dwelling fish
Keen to be granted our one dying wish

For once to feel loved, for once to feel healed
For once to let go and lower our shield
For once to be cherished, for once to be held
Just once to see God before we are felled

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Poetry

A quiet morning

A quiet morning when all is dark
Implements scattered across the desk
Like random thoughts that cross my mind
Without a purpose, unrefined

Echoing briefly, then—exeunt
To be replaced by what comes next
A futile medley, it would seem,
Akin to slideshows that I dream

Outside the window, the world is still
Inside my head, against my will
Synapses madly push and prod
I cannot seem to rein them in

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Poetry

Unsaid

I long to see the morning break
And fill me with its warm, bright light
The gentle passage of this rite
A mother’s kiss as I awake

From dreamless sleep whose tight embrace
Has left me limp and short of breath
Still pumping air, but wishing death
And hoping then there will be grace

Will morning come and bring me bread
Or will I lie here left

Unsaid?

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Poetry

One sliver

One sliver
Of an inch
So close
That you could pinch

Its toothy
Fleshless face
Devoid of
Any grace

Its breath of rot
And sin
That vilely
Beckons in

You thought
That you could win?
You thought
That you would ace?
You thought
That I would flinch?

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Poetry

Awake

Step by weary step Ι plodded along
To the dull beat of a monotonous song
Then in a flash
My day and night crashed
I took my first breath and awoke

A new spring in my step, feet as light as rain
Bouncing off the concrete in melodious refrain
I can walk upright
My smile beaming, bright
Standing tall under a gentle yoke

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Poetry

Night

I don’t think it’s my thing to rage
Against the dying of the light
When I have reached the final stage,
I know I won’t put up a fight

I’d rather let the night caress
This body I’ve worn thin
I’ll have a sip of wine, undress,
And gallantly sink in

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Poetry

When words fail

When words fail
The world seems to end
And life loses all meaning

For a while

When assurances are of no avail
When reason fails to comprehend
Life goes careening

For a mile

But up ahead the road is smooth and straight,
The world restored to its primeval state

And then you’ll smile

For a while

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