Love at its first

(Alain de Botton once said, ‘Perhaps it is true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing, we cannot properly speak until there is someone who can understand what we are saying, in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved’. It is through the first love I have awaken for the first time.)

In that warm and salty afternoon,
I have found out lips were so tender,
He might feel the same way about mine.

Kissing is a sacred love language,
Under the drunken twilight, that were spoken in that rose garden within the campus.
Little comments about how are my hands felt were remembered and pouted upon.
Photos of us talking and looking at each other were taken in stealth by a teasing classmate.
Ponytail girl dressed in the pink hoodie was spoiled in love.

Hormones may sparkle at its highest,
But without being openly acknowledged, it remains tickled.
Being stopped in the teaching building staircase, you have expected all the early morning to get my making a face at you.
Love at its first, trembling with your hand, you started to feel a bit down when could not catch up with my footsteps.
And I got carried away in that windy night and forgot to ask you if it’s the cold weather or to slow myself down.

Someone being the first love,
Who holds the key to my underwater world.
One should expect that there is no sea without the sharks.
And the sea itself only to find out with the first ripples of blood.

I guess without the first sailor,
The peace and calm would make no one’s day.
The silent fierce tide would swallow no one.

I am sorry, my love.
I did not mean to.
I am sorry, my love.
Part of me was buried with you.

(Now years later, thousand of miles away, you are safe and sound with your new family. And far away in an exotic country, the night with the blurry moon, I think of you.)

~Carol Shi

Something casual

There is no other two words I hate more than these two.
Something casual.

It seems safe to define the nature of the relationship upfront,
Mutual agreement then established that there was never a formal relationship.
Never started, and thus can’t be said to have an ending.

People may anticipate that, they are not in a committable stage,
They like to put a ceiling of what may have developed into,
To prepare the justification whenever the situation requires more efforts and they refuse to.
To tie up the heart in case it longs for something more and for the eventuality that it will cost them in the end to have the withdrawal.

All is to prevent entering the gamble,
The gamble which itself is a fascinating game, with every senses to be entertained.
But people find it a hard time to see the flowers withered, to have the sweet tone becoming a squishing sound, to smell the no longer enticing scent or unable to smell it for a long time.

The question should be asked and answered is,
Are you strong enough to fall in love?

Something casual – No, I am unprepared for now.
But do they ever wonder,
Maybe the game set up this time, is a great one
The doomed ending deprives the occurrence of a soul-to-soul gazing,
And how many love stories will we able to write.

We trapped ourselves while on the way chasing freedom,
We tasted the bitterness and we are traumatised to reach out again,
We failed to top the sleepless nights with the lingering and fulfilling sentiment of missing someone.

The heart wants pleasure first,
But as an adult, we just cannot grant that many times, don’t we.

I am a hopeless optimist,
a romantic refuse to skip a game,
an addict that just never thinks stopping is an option.

I may have my lips poisoned in purple,
But you will never grasp the thrill I experienced riding that roller coast

~Carol Shi

As much as we are brave to be

(I always feel, living mainly for food and physical comfort is like taking a bath in a warm swamp, hopeless and falling. Yet living while not giving in, we strugglers, has rendered the sky with a rainbow, a shiny blessing to all those are trying, here is my story and my blessing to you)

How draining,
I look at the posture of a colleague from my side of wall.
I look through the same piece of documents third time, among which, the content made me wonder, whether the reality of this moment is just a surviving game.
If living, if surviving means compromising to the choices you are available to.
‘What is your dream’ should never be asked in childhood,
Only making ways for your later reconciliation.

It has always been a game of persistence.
Giving myself, immersing myself, relinquishing the detest I have.
I am the one who keeps pushing my head into the pool of water,
One splash and I am in, the bubbles of disturbance slowly rise up,
With the rush push, with that little threat, it’s what makes me jump in every morning.
Every night, when I leave the pool, the unsure footsteps left behind has that question mark,
Have I numbed my senses, have I washed away the colour of my soul?

Reconciliation with reality,
How long will it take?
One second if I admit I belong.
Then after one hopeless minute, I know I can’t.

I swing around sitting in the chair,
“There seems no hope afront”
A stunned face look up to me,
And I immediately pretend it was just a humming wining.
Strange thing is that, I don’t feel any more boosted when fellows are on the same path with me,
And I don’t feel much despair when I am standing or struggling all in one.
Most of the times, colleagues are just the slight decoration to warm up the surrounding temperature, so it’s bearable.
There still has a massive map in front of me that I cannot tear up for now and I don’t know how to re-draw by myself.
Stability, statue, professionalism,
Words are universally used as compliments.
Picturing you would never fall, heavy as your footsteps, and you are raised in reputation.
I am encouraged to take the reconciliation, to secure my being.
But being,
Ironically, feels so not alive when all I could think is to pack up and run away.
Are there roles for those who don’t want to play the role?
Can we be, and proudly be,
The narrator, the set painter, the performer.

When the reality keeps choking me,
When the walls around coming towards me,
Reconciliation only means to adapt into the being that shall survive in the confined space.
In the end, the compromise is the means to giving up.

So I have to wait,
To wait when freedom has finally creeped onto my doorstep.
So I have to listen closely,
To hear when the drumming revolution has finally arrived at my stop.

To resume on this road,
We are not to compromise.
We hold the grudge and burn them to be the beacon of our mission.
Though sometimes it keeps us awake in the midnight,
Which only means that we are still on the track.

I hope that
When I bump into anyone of you,
We could have a toast and saying
“As much as we are brave to be!”

~Carol Shi

Stateless

No less, a part of this surrounding
The tall ceiling, windows like towers
And the broken light lying
Like a hand, softly against the altar,
Than here, with the gentle, frozen eyes
Of statues, palms pressed softly
Together, forms of grace
Formulas to recite, and
Footsteps to follow, no more
Born to this than to
That other land, the quiet space between
Asleep and then
Awake, no place to stop
And stay, but wonder,
And pass through.

~R.B.

Bidadari

Space. The endless roll of green on green
The endless blue, the turning, softly
Of the leaves, and the spears of grass
In ropes of shade and turns of light
The soil gives life, and leaves it, leafless
Grey roots buried deep and dying
Worming spears shear underground
Green land, homeland, the land itself
So green on green and black on brown
Of lizard tail and hanging tendril
Lit with wings of tiny souls
And fallen, risen, born anew,
The dent of human presence presses
Hard on the fur of the underleaf
Where the fragile land of the floating spider
Where the outstretched arms of the blooming trees
Embrace this selfsame holy human air.

~R.B.

Dark Night of the Pangolin

Along the Bukit Timah Expressway
Came the pangolin, gentler
Than the grass by the side of the road,
Rarer, than a vacant lot downtown.
Imperiled, walking death, he heeds
Not the passing cars.
Nor knows he a simple turn, few steps
And halt
Is all it takes to stop the dawn
For him, nor would he know
Is he the last pangolin?
But more he knows at least, than
The driver who feels a little bump,
And misses nothing.

~R.B.

Lemon

(The short poem is to dedicated to the song “Lemon” by Kenshi Yonezu, which has accompanied me in the nights that hope has seemed fade away.)

I remembered the day you talked to me in the rain.
You said, pain will be temporary and so is your existence
I remembered that the rain almost made you invisible with your black coat in the dark night
But how can I let go of you, who are the one holding the umbrella in my life.

You said, life shall go on as if the morning after the storm.
Motherly light will come to the window
Wind will blow your hair wild
You will dance with your shadows
You will observe life from the glass window with million pieces of dirt on the surface
Need not to struggle
Need not to struggle
As I will be nowhere, as I can be anywhere
Just smell the lemon we used to pick in our garden
Just not to forget the songs we used to hum in the play
Just remember those moments, they will be the same when you are alone in the rain.

~Carol Shi