Friday, 4 July 2014

The Prince and the City

The Prince gazed out the window
He could not, would not, be moved
By the reluctance so poorly hidden
In the words of the Council. 

I need not listen to a Council of Fools! 
Was it not clear as the summer sky? 
A child would have heard my words
And comprehended better than they.

Snub out the light, and the moths will no longer come!
Take away the honey, and the flies will disappear!
Then the glory of the City will be revealed threefold
And those afar will yearn with envy
For our streets cleared of the jetsam
Our roads free from flotsam
Our temples cleansed of  fallen souls.

His swift decree by sundown 
Left no doubt between the lines
This City will no longer cover
Those who must not be sheltered
And he who lights a candle
Shall too be sent into the darkness.

And so it was, the glory of the city
So sought by the Prince
Never shone, never glittered
As each lamp and candle and fire 
Was put away and blown out.

In the bitter cold the Prince learnt
That the glow of the city
Had come not from the ivory towers he built
But the love in the hearts of its people.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Cartographer's Lament

By the same stars we navigated,
We intertwined our paths
And layered our maps
Like the blankets we shared.

I marked the miles
As he measured the hills,
New streets we drew with borrowed lines
We didn't know could turn

I knew right from his left,
My landmarks were his,
Plotting the fate
Our constellations had designed.

The light in the horizon
Covered cracks on the road,
Perhaps I ignored the warning
That at times even stars 
Don't stay their course.

He kept silent miles before
He took the sudden turn,
The edges could not bear
The pull of divergent routes:
It tore our atlas in two.

Left with fragments
Of a once familiar map,
I go down wrong paths often,
Blank spots aplenty and
Lampposts too few.

The routes I take
Are now disconcerting,
Part familiar, part foreign,
Half still the same, half all new.

My landscape has been relaid,
The scale is all askew,
The directions erased,
Buildings wrecked and
The once bright horizon 
Now wavering lines of gray.

I pass the old clocktower;
The minute hand lags,
The library is half crumbling, 
And the town hall melting
Into the square,
Now not quite a square.

I am a stranger in my own town,
Half-hidden faces pass in view,
I fear I may see him at the turn
And fear that I never will.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


I took my things the day I left you, 
I left you to the left,
Or was it to the right?
The left, I think that's right
I can't recall anymore.

But besides the things I took,
I think I forgot to take
Some thing, or things,
(I can't recall anymore)
Which I left behind, to your right.

What was it? I can't recall,
What they were for, even that
I can't recall anymore
Was it that many things
Which we shared?

Looking back I suspect that,
That which I left behind
Was something (or things)
Which helped me remember
The things I forgot,
Things I can't recall anymore.

Perhaps that's for the better,
and I'll just use what's left, 
To make right, what I can recall,
And leave together behind,
To the left, or the right
It doesn't matter anymore.

Sunday, 9 February 2014


Hello wayfaring readers who wander here. I know I link this blog to a lot of places with public access but rarely ever update it. Legal life does that to you. You write so much at work you have little willpower to string more than two words into a sentence once you leave the office.

This is a bit of a cop-out, but it's better than nothing: I wrote this piece a long time ago and found it lying in one of my desktop folders a few days back. Rather tellingly it was my office desktop (I rarely use my home laptop anymore). 

It’s date mark is 29th November 2013 but I am fairly sure it was written sometime before and just edited in November.

It is obvious I was not in a good place. I’m not there anymore. I may not be on cloud nine right now but I'm glad I’m not there. That’s not to say I won’t end up there again. In fact sometime in the future I'm sure I will.

Reading it again, I find the piece (somewhat embarassingly) overworked and heavy handed, but I know that when you feel your body ache both literally and figuratively, when you struggle to find hope, you aren’t entirely sensitive to subtlety—you just want to pour it out rather than worry about poetic merit or quality.

I hope this helps someone out there who may feel the weight of the world on his/her shoulders. You are not alone. We all go through this. And for instant comfort, read the beautiful Psalm 121.

by Joshua WK Chong

My bones are caving in
Sunken in morning drudgery
Sun oppressed
Even under moonlight

Invisible burdens
Weigh my frame
Sag my shoulders
Hidden fractures
Corrupt my composure

Silent aches drain
Just as palpably
But where is the respite
To heal unseen cracks?

Will I withstand crumbling –
Not sudden demolition –
But fine dust ground daily
Gnawed away bit by bit?

Will the cage
Turn so brittle
It heaves under
A fearful whisper?

Who knows?
Who knows?
Who knows?