The Hexacoto

Listening to the sound of one hand clapping

Tag: frustration

Wandering to get to the far side of the desert

As my foot lands, a gentle swirl
exhales from my shoe as it crunches into the ground —
a breath aspirated with every step.
Rubber soles against
fine, particulate sediment
strum a succession of crunches
— an arpeggio that
wafts its way up to the ears
but is heard most intently and immediately
by the feet.
“Shrack, krack. Tracht, wrecht,” it sings.
Inventing words are not the sole purview of the lips, tongue and teeth.
Heel to balls articulate
the songs of a journey,
aided by the voice of the earth,
as I venture towards
mountains in the distance laid blue by
sun rays cleft into singularity by
Rayleigh scattering.

I lay down in the sand —
that seems burnt red from above
but shines brown around me.
An itchy embrace, but warm
— is it from today’s kindling
or remnants of yesterday’s flagration?
If my heart beats hard enough
a vibration of random motion,
would I create heat?
Perhaps then I could ignite a passion
so hot it turns the grit around me
into glass — not quite diamonds
but it would sparkle close enough;
bright enough for you.

The arrhythmia would kill me
but then I would at least be human enough for you.

Faith ignites a message that falls on stone ears

Faith

A red glow spreads as
electric lotus lamps burn
from a rosewood altar.

Ignites

Three sticks of incense
stuck into the ashes of previous attempts
to reach you.
I flick the dial of a lighter
and it goes “schick, schick.”
A few sparks and the flame is lit,
a covenant made on one end.

Three sticks of incense
rouse and extend fragrant tendrils skywards.
An extension to the heavens —
patch me through, operator.
The sandalwood dance this way and that,
seemingly reluctant to secure the connection,
but like all prayer,
one speaks regardless
of whether the other side is listening.

A Message

“Tua Pek Gong ah, Tua Pek Gong,
my grandma looked to you
for conferrings of harmony
the pious could achieve.
For those who hold their faith each day
in sticks of burning wood.
Structured sutras calm the heart;
metrical relief.

I washed upon these concrete shores,
a boat with much to give.
And countless leagues I’ve had to cross
to berth my anchors in
a port of gold, or so I’m told,
where dreams are to be had.
But all I have to moor the tide
are merely ropes of tin.

Tua Pek Gong ah, Tua Pek Gong
I do not know the form in which to speak
the words that my ancestors would beseech
protections that would sooth the stormy seas.
But would your red auspices run its course
In lands where red is mixed with white and blue?
Where ships are not the vessels they were built
but kindling from the boards that have been stripped.
I rely on mantras that I borrowed
in hopes of days where boats could be ships

That Falls On

Rectitude is all I have when
circumstances bend my back

My communion withers
as three sticks of incense stand
on their last legs.

Stone Ears

A ceramic smile
glazed upon a statuette
could never waver.

How do I tell you that I had pushed you away to protect myself, even as I still cared for you?

Post-Orlando

It has been a couple days since the shooting happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The conversation has been continuing in the days since the shooting, and we are still feeling the emotional outflow of anger, pain, and shock that something like this has happened again. We’ve seen coverage of self-serving political candidates capitalising on this as a self-promotion opportunity, speculation about the sexuality of the shooter, the nation’s inability to act to prevent further shootings because it is crippled by lobbyists, intense coverage of the final moments as victims died, outrage at Muslims, people defending Muslims, Muslims being outraged, so on and so on and so on.

But amid the whirlwind of content outpouring, I find myself thinking about hate. I find myself thinking about what it must feel like to be living with so much hatred. What it must feel like to hate someone’s very existence without even having known them, hating them because they are labelled as something that goes against one’s “values”.

I tried to imagine hating the shooter Omar Mateen that took the lives of 49 sons and daughters that night in the club and I couldn’t do it. I could feel anger as I imagined what might have happened that night, but I feared that if I found myself capable of hating Mateen, I would be no better than anyone else hating someone else without knowing what they’re about. I thought about how I would have done had I been in that club, how I would have felt had any of the victims had been direct friends of mine. I was very cognizant of how removed I was from this incident, yet how connected I was to this issue at large. I was once again reminded that there were people who hated my for no particular reason, and wondered if I had been guilty of similar hatred.

People claim that this incident shouldn’t be about any individual — the problem is a systemic failure of the society at large. But larger problems are expressed at local levels, and if we don’t deal with problems from the ground up, how much less so can we attempt to solve problems at a larger level? I want to learn more about myself as I ingest this incident and I want to grow from it. From there, I hope to become a stronger person equipped to handle such complex issues and will be better equipped to talk to other people around it, and ultimately effect change that matters.

Seaworthy, But A Worth Not Seen

A ship arrived in the city
No one is aboard
A massive liner that could carry thousands
Not a soul to be seen
The finest luxuries afforded
No silverware even touched
A ship arrived in the city
No one knows why it was there

“Where did it come from?”
“When did it come?”
“How did it get here?”
“Who brought it here?”
“Why did it come here?”
“What will we do with it?”

Perhaps we could scuttle it, said one, use its wood as kindling
Perhaps we could make a playground out of it, said another
Perhaps as a homeless shelter?
No one thought to use it as a ship

And so the city folk took their axes
And hacked the ship apart
They pried plank from frame, steel from heart
The ship wept salty tears
For the ship crossed leagues and leagues of sea
To see a city it has heard of
Of shining ports and great big lights
Where ships could be ships

Unicorns on a unicycle at UNICON 17 Part 2

Previously, on Part 1 of Unicorns on a unicycle at UNICON 17…

I arrived in Montreal, went to a naked bike ride, attended some UNICON events, made some friends.

mtl8

What’s the point of bringing two unicycles into Montreal and not doing a ride, right? A long distance ride was in the cards, because I wrote “Long Distance Ride” on them.

I wanted to go to Habitat 67, because the last time I was in Montreal I got lost and did not make it there. Habitat 67 was my first introduction to Moshe Safdie and his works, and subsequent introduction to brutalism and architecture movements. The best I got previously was a blurry view of the site from a distance in the evening, because the island Habitat was situated on is incredibly confusing.

Anyway, I set off from my friend’s place, with whom I was staying, and realised it was a pretty straightforward ride. However, what was not so straightforward was riding on the roads. Because:

Montreal roads are utter shit.

Seriously, did they pave them out of sugar? Potholes, cracks, and dragons waiting to snare the unsuspecting (uni)cyclist to break their mothers’ backs. I must have broken mine many times, because I fell many times. According to my local friend Mike, this is a local wisdom:

montrealroads

This is how I unicycle in Montreal:

moncafeglace

I dropped an iced coffee while riding Montreal’s treacherous roads. It was half-full too! (Is it optimism if I drop a half-full cup of coffee or half-empty cup of coffee?) I bemoaned loudly my dismay (in French of course, because we’re in Montreal. Come on.) at the city’s lamentable roads.

Lost coffee aside, I did manage to eke out a 51 kilometre ride. Here’s the map of the route, click image for larger picture.

090814

Somewhere early in the ride, I hit a hidden pothole when I was going downhill and I flew forward really hard. I was really worried I was going to land on my bare knees and had to roll on the roads, but luckily I managed run out the momentum. I must have been going at 22km/h. While I was alright, my unicycle apparently bumped around and into the rear of a car, whose family was standing around. Then I had to worry if I damaged his car, but luckily there was no damage. After ascertaining that his car was fine, then he asked if I was OK which I said I was and sped off, albeit more cautiously this time.

mtl9

All that talk about getting to Habitat 67, I finally got there and took pictures like an architecture nerd. Sated, I cycled onto the islands of Parc Jean-Drapeau. I had fun riding around the F1 track and going “broom broom.”

mtl11

I thought I would be able to get out the other side and then find my way out by going north, but then I ran into this:

mtl10

A raising bridge was raised so some private yachts can pass through. Meanwhile, us non-1%-ers twiddled our bicycles (and unicycle) while we waited for the bridge to come back down. I didn’t wait long enough for it to come down, because 15 minutes later the bridge was still up. So I backtracked all the way I came — something I really hate to do — and made it back onto the mainland of Montreal.

mtl12

I had lunch at Beaudry, which was the gay district of Montreal. It was very pretty and gay. I had lunch at an A&W, something I hadn’t seen in years! It also had free wifi, which was great.

mtl5

I cycled back to the college, and then to the apartment where the other Singaporeans were staying, and then back to Mike’s. Here are the final stats of the trip.

Total elapsed time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Total moving time: 3 hours 16 minutes
Total stopped time: 1 hour 14 minutes
Maximum speed: 27.9 km/h
Total UPD’s: Frickin’ SEVEN. 4 times alone on that accursed Rue Sherbrooke. 1 time speeding downhill and unicycle bumped into a car.
Number of potholes dodged: Infinity
Number of iced coffee spilled: 1
Steps counted by the 3DS: About 21,000
Breaks taken: 4

 

Wrap up, Start Over

The year of 2013 was momentous: I wrapped up a milestone in my life where I graduated from university, and was thus to embark on my next, into working life.

Instead, I boarded a ride into an extended period of self-doubt and uncertainty, as I failed to get a full-time paying job.

I learnt to challenge the notion of success and succeeding, and what it takes to succeed. I came to the conclusion that it is not so dependent on how skilled a person is, as it is knowing people and finding channels in which to succeed.

I lost the will to write for a while.

I found a reason to write again.

My year was peppered with moments of anxiety and helplessness, and as moments becomes days, and days turn to weeks, I was cast afloat. Perseverance struggled against despair, attrition reared its ugly face and slowly wore down the smiles, leaving behind a numb sombreness.

When one is steeped for so long in the cesspool of the unpleasant, one learn to be inured to its sting. But in learning to deaden the nerves that feel the unpleasant, so do the nerves that feel the pleasant and joy die out too, for they are the same thing. I have had not a reason to smile, but so did I not grimace as well, as I meandered the course, hoping, no that word is too strong, waiting for the happenstance that something better comes along for me to latch on to, to break this autopilot.

Because it is very tiring not to feel anything. The wilful denial of reacting to anything is exhausting — I’ve held my hand up to keep emotions at bay, and now my arms begin to tire.

Dare I even hope for hope this coming year?

Happy new year, everyone.