Monday, September 21, 2009

Poem 1 From Twenty Poems of Love

Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,
you look like a world, lying in surrender.
My rough peasant’s body digs in you
And makes the son leap from the depth of the earth.

I only was a tunnel. The birds fled from me,
and night swamped me with its crushing invasion.
To survive myself I forged you like a weapon,
like an arrow in my bow, a stone in my sling.

But the hour of vengeance falls, and I love you.
Body of skin, of moss, of eager and firm milk.
Oh the goblets of the breasts! Oh the eyes of absence!
Oh the roses of thee pubis! Oh your voice, slow and sad!

Body of a woman, I will persist in your grace.
My thirst, my boundless desire, my shifting road.
Dark river-beds where the eternal thirst flows
And weariness follows, and the infinite ache.

Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)
(Translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Revenant

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you – not one bit.

When I licked your face,
I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

I resented the way you moved,
your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair to eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

I would have run away,
but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
while I was learning to sit and heel,
and – greatest of insults – shake hands without a hand.

I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reasons to lie.
I hated the car, the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you
was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

While you slept, I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all of my strength
not to raise my head and howl.

Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place

expect what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner –
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry, the cats and all the others in prose.

By Billy Collins
Taken from The Trouble With Poetry

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Fishbones Dreaming

Fishbones lay in the smelly bin.
He was a head, a backbone and a tail.
Soon the cats would be in for him.

He didn’t like to be this way.
He shut his eyes and dreamed back.

Back to when he was fat, and hot on a plate.
Beside green beans, with lemon juice
squeezed on him. And a man with a knife
and fork raised, about to eat him.

He didn’t like to be this way.
He shut his eyes and dreamed back.

Back to when he was frozen in the freezer.
With lamb cutlets and minced beef and prawns.
Three month he was in there.

He didn’t like to be this way.
He shut his eyes and dreamed back.

Back to when he was squirming in a net,
with thousands of other fish, on the deck
of a boat. And the rain falling
Wasn’t wet enough to breathe in.

He didn’t like to be this way.
He shut his eyes and dreamed back.

Back to when he was darting through the sea,
past crabs and jellyfish, and others
likes himself. Or surfacing to jump for flies
And feel the sun on his face.

He liked to be this way.
He dreamed hard to try and stay there.

By Matthew Sweeney


This is really a depressing poem. When I am dying on my deathbed, would I be also dreaming about my past?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Take This Job And Shove It!

Deathbed Test

Imagine yourself on your deathbed. From that vantage point, look back at what you did for a living.

Was it worth it?

You got three options:

i) Keep your job and seethe.
ii) Keep it and stop seething.
iii) Switch.

Keeping it and seething is simplest. Chances are, you’re already doing this. It affords you the frisson of venting – without having to risk anything or move a muscle. The ready-made “lazy and afraid” career-management strategy is staying and seething.

Staying without seething requires effort: the inner workout of exercising optimism and patience, of finding silver linings when your impulse is to shout “Take this job and shove it!”

Switching is the most strenuous workout of all. It’s not just mentally and physically hard but also terrifying, as it means learning new skills and routines and agreeing to take orders from and get along with a new set of strangers.

Yet switching is also easy in at least one sense. If one keeps switching at the first sign of dissatisfaction, one need never learn resilience, patience, or endurance. One is never forced to find inner peace. Instead, one just escapes – perhaps to face the same problems again in the next workplace. In which case one is not stuck in a job, per se, but stuck on starting over – stuck more on discontent, on the idea of being stuck at work, than actually stuck at work.

Taken from Stuck: Why We Can’t (or Won’t) Move On by Anneli Rufus


Two things caught my attention when I was reading this particular section a few days ago. Firstly the question

“Was it worth it?”

What do I mean by that?

I like to see life as a constant struggle between gain and sacrifice. For example, are you willing to spend more time at work and thus sacrificing the time spend with your loved ones? When will you realize that it is no longer worth it? When you no longer have time for dinner with them? When you realized that you hardly know the person lying next to you? Or when your idea of keeping in touch with your friends is sending them sms during festival seasons such as Christmas Day?

What about your health? How do you know it is no longer worth it to work through the nights so that you are able to meet the deadline the next day? Sure, you are a responsible person. You have to answer to the management. You will not allow yourself to be perceived as someone who is inefficient, someone who is unable to take stress, in a nutshell - a weakling.

Yesterday I could not made up my mind between spending Valentine's Day with my wife and going back to office to clear my reports. After some thought, I apologized to her and explained that as a responsible officer, I need to meet the deadline given by the management. My wife turned around, looked into my eyes and said, “You are responsible for me too.” I was totally caught off guard by her comment and we spend a wonderful Valentine's Day together.

Secondly the author is right,

"If one keeps switching at the first sign of dissatisfaction, one need never learn resilience, patience, or endurance. One is never forced to find inner peace."

There is no running away from heavy workloads, bitchy bosses, backstabbing colleagues, demanding clients, irritating emails/phone calls, etc. So what are you going to do about them? Trying to run away from your problems is like assuming that if you run away today, you will be problem-free for the rest of your life.

But guess who created all these problems? You and me, who else? We just can’t stop creating problems. World peace is an illusion. Go ask the politicians.

So what is the solution? According to the author, we have to find our inner peace. But the definition of inner peace is very subjective. What constitute as inner peace for a serial killer is very different from my barber, I hope.

Before Death comes knocking on my door, I am going to do as much as I can to make my life worthwhile. And when I am on my deathbed, I can proudly look back and says, “It was all worth it.”