29 June 2006

              Happy Birthday To Me

              33 years old, and starting from scratch.
              The world as womb. My time has come.
              As young, and as old, as I'll ever be.
              What lies beyond? Which doors do I close,
              what part of me do I take with me?
posted by Gilbert at Thursday, June 29, 2006 17 comments

27 June 2006


                Rainbow Fish

                Teck, remember
                when we were kids
                wading barefoot
                in the stream
                behind our home,
                catching rainbow
                fish those small bright
                lights making
                ripples widening
                in the water?
                Now we sit here
                on a rainy day
                over beer and
                scooping up
                old memories
                in a netful of small
                live colours,
                see how they gasp
                in surprise
                and leap crazily,
                still alive,
                after all this time
                their silver bellies
                still vivid in
                the sun.
posted by Gilbert at Tuesday, June 27, 2006 6 comments

24 June 2006

            Poor Speaker

            I have a habit of mumbling.
            My tongue grows thick and I myself can hear
            how from my mouth
            one word emerges indistinctly into the next,
            like porridge poured onto other
            shapeless porridge.
            This often happens when I am caught
            in one of those social situations
            where I need most
            to appear sophisticated, intelligent and articulate,
            in other words, those occasions
            when people talk too much,
            say too little and hardly listen at all.
            At such times, in a certain ironic way,
            the incomprehensible sounds
            escaping my lips
            are in fact the most appropriate things
            I could possibly say.
posted by Gilbert at Saturday, June 24, 2006 4 comments

23 June 2006

            Paddy Chew’s Last Show

            Life is real. Art is its mirror. Or is it the
            other way round? Paddy Chew has forgotten.
            His life is here now, on stage, Paddy starring as himself,
            the final act, before the curtain falls
            and the lights go out forever.

            “This is me,” he says to the audience, “take a look.”
            He lifts his shirt up. A stunned silence.
            Ribs cast shadows on other ribs. The flesh
            has fallen away, the body a territory conquered
            by the relentless virus.

            This is what Paddy tells his audience:
            I liked women. I liked men too.
            At least that is what he remembers.
            These days his body yearns for nothing, not sex,
            not food or water, nothing but its own breath,
            exhausted, in and out, in and out,
            an almost unnatural thing.

            Lies are for the living. Truth is for the brave.
            Masks fall away when death comes close.
            “I am so close,” Paddy says, “to dying.”
            All he wants is to show the audience
            what he has seen. That all of us are dying,
            and none of us should die alone.

            Paddy dies, but not alone. In a way, he lives on too.
            Love is his message. Love endures. I did not know him,
            but I know what love is. I wrote this poem
            so that others like him will live,
            and die, but not alone.
posted by Gilbert at Friday, June 23, 2006 7 comments

22 June 2006

                About My Father

                Back from the hospital,
                two weeks after the surgeon cut
                his heart apart and sewed it
                back together again.
                He resumes his normal life.
                Fixing breakfast in the morning
                for the family - bread and jam,
                and coffee - then settling down
                to read the paper.
                Only occasionally speaking,
                to express surprise at some event
                reported in the press.
                It is as if nothing has happened.
                When he has truly departed
                I shall remember him
                as he was, here.
                A man of few words, inscrutable.
                Drinking black, hot coffee.
                His eye steady on a world
                he'd already begun to
                leave behind.
posted by Gilbert at Thursday, June 22, 2006 4 comments

20 June 2006

            Dental Check-Up

            The week before my
            appointment, I abstain from
            coffee, upgrade my brand
            of toothpaste,
            and religiously brush
            the most difficult crooks
            and crannies of
            my teeth,
            regretting chocolates
            and other recent

            Now I open my mouth,
            peer hard into the bathroom mirror,
            move my tongue from
            side to side, self-
            examine, anxious
            and guilty.
            Doctor, forgive me,
            it's been too long
            since my last
posted by Gilbert at Tuesday, June 20, 2006 8 comments

19 June 2006

Waiting for Inspiration

I’m trying to write a poem in the shape of a circle
but all the words are still lingering
on the edge.
I hope they will step in soon.

posted by Gilbert at Monday, June 19, 2006 5 comments


              You want me to say you’re beautiful
              but I won't use these tricks
              on you -

              moonlight walks, sweet words,
              unexpected flowers,
              fine wine and candlelight
              jazz moods,
              professions of love forever
              in silly poems
              on rainy nights made
              for two,

              it’s the clever men
              who know these tricks,
              the women never do -

              when I hold you darkly
              on crumpled linen
              in passion
              without words
              then search my eyes
              you'll know that I think
              .................. you're
              ......................... beautiful.
posted by Gilbert at Monday, June 19, 2006 0 comments

11 June 2006


            In a secret place, a very secret place,
            with the world so faraway
            that I end up whispering to myself.
            No one knows I'm here,
            and no one will hear me speak.

            Just beside me, a clear little stream,
            running over pebbles, passing moss-covered rocks.
            If I slipped and hit my head,
            I think I might stain the water red
            and die here.

            Listen to how it breathes, babbles, all nonsense,
            rushing to irrelevant destinations -
            see how it ignores me.
            I just might want to slip, hit my head,
            to stain the water red
            and die here.
posted by Gilbert at Sunday, June 11, 2006 2 comments

04 June 2006

Caravaggio, The Holy Family


              Late at night I return home
              from work and find my wife and child
              fast asleep together.
              When I lift him from her breast
              she sighs in her sleep as if lost
              in distant dreams.
              But in the dark my son stirs
              and clings to me,
              fighting off the drowsiness
              that drapes him like a cloak.
              His small arms, recalling
              his father’s body, lock around my neck
              as if imagining a drowning.
              So here too is the language of loss
              the fear of loss,
              and this is how he learns to love,
              as we ourselves have learned.
              We forget, we crowd
              our lives with white noise,
              bright colours, a thousand
              irrelevant things,
              but in the end we return
              to all there really is –
              the sons, the fathers
              the women whom they love
              and in all the nights ahead
              this great black fear
              of absence.
posted by Gilbert at Sunday, June 04, 2006 6 comments

02 June 2006

              Third Party

              The woman I love
              is yelling at her mother
              who is yelling back.
              I try to intercede,
              to make peace.
              She snaps, “Shut up,
              it’s none of your business.”
              On this point alone,
              her mother fully agrees.
              I sit back, roll my eyes
              at the ceiling.
              Taking the spectator’s
              back seat.
              They turn back to their
              rudely interrupted
posted by Gilbert at Friday, June 02, 2006 1 comments

              When I Was Little

              Dragons used to dance in the sky,
              and strange animals stretched as far as the eye
              could see, cotton white against brilliant blue.
              They would not speak, but I saw them going through
              their lazy movements, changing shape with the wind,
              sometimes disappearing, then reappearing,
              sometimes looking down to watch us crawling
              about on earth. They knew we wouldn’t notice.
posted by Gilbert at Friday, June 02, 2006 3 comments

              Bako Island

              Thirty minutes by boat takes me from here
              to a village where people make their living
              tossing nets into the sea;
              but at sunset on Bako
              no footprints walk the beach but mine
              and all the world is sky and ocean.
              Still it seems that no one knows
              this place, no one remembers
              how a hermit crab defies, marking
              a wind-swept, wave-swept beach
              with the sandy trails of
              its lonely travels.
posted by Gilbert at Friday, June 02, 2006 3 comments