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:

Blogger Gilbert Koh said...

Paddy Chew was the first Singaporean with AIDS to come forward and publicly say so. In the last year of his life, he performed a one-man play about his own life to raise awareness about AIDS. He died in 1999. More about Paddy's life here.

For some time, the idea of writing a poem about Paddy has been lurking somewhere at the back of my mind. Finally I have done so.

April 15, 2006  
Blogger floots said...

great post
powerful and effective without preaching
subtly done
thank you
(really enjoying the project - hope you are) :)

April 15, 2006  
Blogger spyder said...

Touched and moved I was. Thank you.

April 15, 2006  
Blogger Alson Teo said...

“All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

--- William Shakespeare

I am really moved by this poem.

Thank you.

April 16, 2006  
Blogger mrdes said...

Thanks again..I am moved

April 16, 2006  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

gilbert,
a very poignant poem.

great ending :
"so that others like him will live,
and die, but not alone."

April 16, 2006  
Blogger Gilbert Koh said...

Thank you ... I really liked this one too. I think I said something important in this poem.

April 16, 2006  

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