Drifting through streets of industrial Hong Kong
Dimly lit stairways quietly lure us deeper
Into this old beating heart, throbbing
Through the dust and smoke, a constant
Unchanged variable, through colonial days
To the handover, there are still men who live by

Lifting crates and smoking.
They used to play cards,
Now they have iPhones.

Narrow alleys, motor repairs graced with
Graffiti, uncivilized sophistication
Slipping through backdoors, stuffy fire escapes,
With abandoned offerings to gods
Rows of rotting Chinese buns pinned with incense
Going up and up, straining our ears for
Footsteps of security guards, who turn out to be
Lonesome, craving for company.

These rooftops don’t give panoramic views,
But here they show you what the Peak cannot.

Integrated into the hazy skyline,
Isolated from the perpetual bustle,
We take pictures of ourselves like
Typical teenagers
With the backdrop of ordinary buildings
Caressing us, into this city with a face
We finally see.

You can’t escape from the system.

Life is not without a sense of irony.

 

again, image display because the text formatting sucks

on selfishness

My first attempt at Villanelle! Untitled…

displaying an image because the formatting sucks

***

Pretty obvious what this box/ page is…

Ok, well, I exaggerated this a bit, but you get the general idea.

***

The fear has been creeping softly in ever since I acknowledged the dead-lock I trapped myself in half a year ago. It fully unleashed itself these last few days leading up to Christmas, a season of love and reconciliation. Reconciliation, something I am still unwilling to accept from her; forgiveness, a liberty from hate and anguish I refuse to grant for both of us. And love, a power distorted into its ugliest form in our adamant manipulation and stubborn insistence of our own dignity.

Contact is inevitable. It means having to face someone I no longer care about, to relive the undulating memories she’s forcing onto me, wave by wave. Nightmares grip my endless nights, so many early mornings I have awoken with a prickly sweat, straining my ears for a comforting bird’s call that does not penetrate my mind thickly shrouded with dread. Memories I wish to forget— Recollections of times long past, which I have incarcerated into a dilapidated, banished prison of thought in the hidden recesses of my mind, burst out like flash floods of a hot summer. They break through the strong dams I have painstakingly constructed to suppress the tides, the eddying flows and currents that took so long to calm once again go raging, forming monstrous waves that tower over my dark, rocky shores.

They are not memories solely of her, but of all the repercussions that came from stepping into her world, their world. A world of empty souls, aimless shadows of human beings that hedonistically pursue transient possessions in a vain attempt of self-gratification. And aren’t all of us like that, at some point in our lives, to some extent? The stark realization that there is no absolute line dividing right and wrong, the wracking acceptance that we live in a gray world, that there are different definitions of “right”, and if one chooses to do “right” things, one often has to be alone.

The turbulence and chaos that resulted have reduced me into nothing but a flitting remnant of my old self, for I have lost my confidence in seeing through people, no longer perceiving their fears and fantasies with crystal clear vision, but as though through a haze that will never lift. These months I have slowly recovered, locking up these banes within walls that I thought were secure. But it was a form of escapism; I was delaying the moment of confrontation. It was all in vain, for I had never recovered.

So it all boils down to this. A forced exchange of fake, transparent greetings and Christmas wishes built upon superfluous words alone, carrying not even an iota of meaning or sincerity. A forced reconciliation— the air is heavy, weighed down with false cheeriness— creates an illusion that all is well and forgiven.

No… the hate and pain still lingers…

***

It’s unfinished and I don’t plan on ending it. Merry Christmas.

The thought of suicide is a powerful solace: by means of it one gets through many a bad night. – Friedrich Nietzsche

History had countlessly defeated the various ideals that people claimed to hold up so high. One front that we particularly did not advance in was our intolerance of any difference or peculiarity. Anything that threatened the status quo was deemed a threat and therefore, had to be exterminated from the face of earth. What is equality, liberty, or maybe even truth, when the people who claim to seek for them, teach their kids to hate homosexuals, instilling distorted values which are the very antithesis of what they strive so hard for?

“Fag, go masturbate with a cucumber or a banana. Tell me which one’s better tomorrow, I can announce it to the whole class for you— Sherrie’s Exclusive Advice to Homos.”

“You homos know nothing better than to sit together in your own comfort groups all day, sticking to each other like dog shit on pavement. That’s what you all are. Dog shit.”

“It must be some mental illness you’ve got, or a disease. What you do ain’t normal! They should lock all of you guys up in an asylum or something. That way we can live our lives in peace.”

Tonia glanced apprehensively sideways at Sherrie through sheets of rain. The sweat on her palms mingled with the cold water pooling on the edges of the rooftop as she gripped it tightly, sitting precariously on it, beside Sherrie. Below them is a plummeting drop to death and Tonia watched as her best friend’s tears fell with the rain, indistinguishable, fell to oblivion, down, down to the uncaring bustling streets below. She felt like tearing up inside seeing her friend so shattered and broken, like porcelain pieces of a once beautiful, graceful sculpture.

“All it takes is a push,” Sherrie said glumly, “and I’ll be free falling with the rain. Accelerating towards the earth, towards my death. And then it’ll all be over just like that.”

Tonia remained silent, gazing at the skyscrapers looming in front of her like hooded ghosts behind the veil of rain. It was late, but many office lights were still turned on, little misty squares of soft yellow glowing in the distance. Tonia cupped her hands and the rain filled it up, brimming quickly, until the water overflowed and continued its cascade. All was quiet except for the unceasing splatter of raindrops, drenching the two hunched girls to the bones.

“Sherrie…” Tonia began slowly, teeth chattering in the cold, choosing her words with utmost care. “What do you think it feels like to be rain?”

“I’ll find out soon, won’t I? Won’t be able to tell you though… ”

(Dammit shouldn’t have said that.) “I think we’re all like rain already. Speeding towards death from the moment we’re born, like how raindrops know their end is imminent as soon as they fall. Bound by the laws of gravity, they all fall in a straight line, at the same speed, and they can’t choose their own paths to destruction. But we can, Sherrie. We can. Even if we are born lesbians. You don’t have to die like raindrops do.”

Tonia reached forward to brush the heavy locks of hair from Sherrie’s forehead. Holding her cheek gently, she begged, “Don’t go yet. You’re worth much more than rain.”

Sobbing uncontrollably, Sherrie fell— into Tonia’s arms, and Tonia held her frail, shaking frame as they silently whiled the night away.

When you internalize your secrets and let them accumulate, on a very bad day, it takes only a little more to push you to the limits, when you question yourself, is life still worth living? And dying will suddenly feel very simple. Just a step from the rooftop, or the kick of a stool as you grab at the rope tight around your neck, or a violent stab at yourself. Then everything will end, and all of life’s troubles will be gone.

Maybe you feel that the whole world is against you sometimes, but that happens to everyone. Sometimes you feel that no one understands you, but think, there are almost seven billion people in the world now, so maybe someone else is going through the same struggles too. No one is entirely alone; it’s the distance between two that makes one feel isolated and vulnerable.

“We all start off like raindrops, but we don’t have to end like them. We don’t have to let people dictate our lives with the opposing beliefs they impose on us. I mean, it’s your life. Why should you let ignorant people affect what you think about yourself?”

“Hey, so did you do it? Which is better, cucumber or banana?”

“When they speak like that, they say everything about themselves and nothing about us. Sherrie… Be strong, because they win when your soul dies.”

Haven’t written narratives for a long time… This piece is entirely fictional.

The Scent of Fresh Blades

(If I could, I would like to bring the scent of fresh blades with me wherever I go, to remind myself that sometimes, it’s alright if you’re not perfect.)

“Do you know what I like most about grass? Not its biological versatility of survival. Not its colour, not its soft touch on your bare arms when you lie on it, when it comes brushing at you, sometimes with dew, soaking your shirt in damp streaks. Not the way it feels so springy underneath your feet when you run on it. The best thing about grass is its scent. The scent of fresh blades.”

She said this the day I kissed her. We were lying on grass, with her curled up around me, and I was staring at the sky flushed bloody red and golden yellow with the hues of that long sunset. She plucked out a long blade and twisted it into a ring. I held that fragility in my fingers, and, pointing it towards the descending sun, realized it ringed that fiery globe perfectly.

(Perfection within imperfection. I had been trying to paint that ever since.)

“Take roses for example. If one of them has a ruffled petal, or a crooked stem, or a bent leaf, then it can’t belong anymore, because roses you give someone are supposed to be all perfect, to symbolize all that love you are trying to express. You’d have to get another one to replace it in your bunch of 99, or 50, or 36, or whatever number that people make up, which they claim it signifies some unending love or something. Bullshit.”

We were at a boutique looking at roses, and disdain for such flimsy and superficial emblems of love was clearly written on her face. I got one nonetheless, not particularly for her. It was nice to look at, with a ruffled petal, crooked stem, and some bent leaves, still beautiful, and she took it as we walked out onto the pavement. She ran a big, sharp thorn along her arm, and her delicate skin split open, hot red veins creeping out from the cut.

“Hey, why do you do that?” I had become accustomed to her eccentricities, her little unexpected acts of self-inflicted minor damages, that this did not surprise me. She turned around and I gazed into her dark, unyielding eyes.

“What are your thorns?” She asked softly.

We walked hand in hand.

“And what are yours?”

Maybe we couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be compared to roses. Going back to that piece of grass, we lay there in unbroken silence for the rest of the afternoon, each of us immersed in our own thoughts. Such sweet silence characterized the rest of the days we spent together.

“You know how grass smells like after it rains?” She asked one day, when she came to my workshop, fiddling with the rose I bought that cut her. “Fresh. Raw. In it you could also smell the soil, the earthworms and the bugs crawling underneath our feet. They don’t exactly smell good, and you wouldn’t like to acknowledge their existence, but you can’t separate them from the smell of grass. Without their complement, grass wouldn’t feel like grass. That’s why I like its scent, the scent of fresh blades. It has imperfections, yet I like it’s scent because of them.”

Her fingers lingered over the sharp, unforgiving thorns, tempted to pierce them again. Gently, I took it from her hands, and placed it in an empty beer bottle next to the window sill. The sunlight, sifting through the trees outside, splashed brilliantly all over it, forcing life into its shrivelled, blackened petals.

(Remember the sunset.)

“… so grass is the ideal.” She continued another day. “Each blade is different, yet that doesn’t matter. Whether it’s long, short, bent, or ripped… it’s still grass. Grass is allowed to have defects. One blade does not get plucked just because it doesn’t look good enough. But imperfection cannot be tolerated in roses. The way we look at roses, is the way we look at ourselves now. The models, the weightlifters, the singers, my neighbor. The perfect body, perfect look, perfect smile, curvature of the lips, the hips. But it’s not appearances alone. Everyone wants to be the perfect man, woman, dancer, artist, girl-next-door, athlete. Fuck, it’s not about ability too. It’s about being a perfect person. I know you, Ed. You’re trying to become the perfect man, perfect son, perfect artist. You don’t have to.

“If only we could be like grass. It would be ok to be yourself, to have your own personal shortcomings and flaws and weaknesses. Of course you’d have to work on them, and of course you’d have to at least try being better all the time. But all this paranoia about being the “right” one, well, Ed, you’re not the only one. I find it unnecessary.”

I brush the locks from her face and caress her. (Clarisse, sometimes, I think you think too much. But I think about these things too.)

And she would make those rings of grass endlessly. Occasionally I would pocket one or two, only to find them weeks later, withered and dry, in my shirt-pocket stained with blue ink. These rings gradually became a muse for my painting, as the months stretch, I would always think back to the day when she first made me one, when I pointed it at the setting sun, and marveled at how an imperfect, insignificant blade of grass, when bent in a certain way, could still possess the perfection of a circle.

I was trying to paint that sunset into a rose. The one with ruffled petals, bent leaves, and a crooked stem.

“What is it about flawlessness that is so encapsulating? Is such a state of being desirable, if it is achievable at the first place?”

(It gives one a sense of calm to have an ideal to aim for.)

To have a fictional goal, even if it appears to be out of reach. You need… a purpose. That way, perfection would seem to be possible. Belief in perfection, isn’t this all that matters?

Each stroke of the brush has to be carefully considered, how you angle your brush, the layering of paints. Where do edges end and shades begin? It is up to me to decide, to manipulate. Focus.

“Back to my point about grass. It is the ideal state of imperfection. A way of perception. Not delusional, being blind to your own weaknesses; but… you know, living with the knowledge of it, forgiving, not overly scrutinizing every meticulous detail, every flaw. I’d like to see you finish your sunset. It would be something new for a change, something different, not the glamorously romantically beautiful but ugly roses you see in cold department stores.”

(Smell my sunset for me, Clarisse.)

I pondered over her words with every stroke. Sometimes it took an hour to decide which brush to use, or the proportion of paints I should have in mixture. Not every stroke may be perfect, and this rose, certainly, was nowhere near perfect. But it did not matter, as long as Clarisse like it.

For hours she would stare at that unfinished canvas, sometimes hung over the poorly plastered wall, sometimes spread out over a wooden board. Would it be “ideal”, in her terms? Could it be? It looked different on different days. Once, there was a storm, and the shadows from torn, aimless leaves outside kept flitting over my sunset, like homeless ghosts in the horizon, desperately seeking for respite. And when it rained lightly, it was as if my rose was masked in a thin veil, with the whiteness of air that damp days brought.

Nonetheless, it looked as if the sun shone eternally through my rose. One perfect sunset, blended into an imperfect rose. The richness of colour, the emotional intensity, the unspeakable beauty of near-twilight that day.

Nearing the end, I tried smelling the rose. It had the scent of fresh blades.

Will be posting up some stuff I wrote…

this

is a playground for my unspeakable thoughts.

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