An Amorous Poet?

August 31, 2012 , 0 Comments

A random photo
Am currently taking one USP class on creative writing. According to my lecturer and friends, some of my draft poems are implicitly sensual.

I've no idea how they managed to come to such a conclusion.

H2 + H2 + O2 -> H2O + H2O

And so, I dodge those vast nostrils,
avoiding their suction.
I’m awake, careful, vigil –
my playmate is in sight.

She jiggles with dulcet delight,
alluring as always.
It is meant to be and tonight,
we promise: we’ll react.

That obese party wobbles in,
while I buzz to H2.
No, no, no! Not this sin!
The fond memories flutter past.

We collide, all bruised and broken,
then become different.
Our past love hence unspoken,
bound forever in triplets.

Comment from lecturer
This is, for me, a riddle poem, and a fine one, as the riddle has me stumped. I figure the "I" is an atom (I am NO scientist), yet also an allegorical figure for something else, as seen in the very last stanza. Your poem reminds me a great deal of John Donne's style; the Metaphysical poets were fond of conceits, taken by the 'science' of their day, and by double entendres (as were Shakespeare and co.) I find yr last stanza particularly teasing :-)
Comments from friends
Who's the obese party? Oh, oxygen! Obese oxygen, hahah!
Gosh, are they having a threesome?!
Intended meaning
I tried not to wince when I heard their comments. This is a poem on the reaction between two hydrogen molecules and an oxygen molecule. I wanted this reaction to be a metaphor for broken relationships, unplanned collisions and fractured families. I've no idea how my friend managed to interpret it as a threesome.
Grey on grey

Grey is the bastard child of black and white,
curdling in the damp and silence.
And grey is your answer that blights.

This child – unloved, reviled, trite –
squirms to an amniotic cadence.
Grey is this bastard child of black and white.

It cloys your throat with quiet spite,
with acceptance (or its semblance).
And grey is this answer that blights.

With a veneer of monotony, it smites,
striking, striking you into temperance.
Grey is your bastard child of black and white.

It de-colourises every word and lights
a wick hinting at a flagrance.
And grey is this answer that blights.

On your fleshy tongue, it writhe,
twisting in its imagined valiance.
Grey is this bastard child of black and white,
And grey is your answers that blights.

Conversation with a friend
Is this about a La-Chi?
      Huh? What's a La-Chi?
It is the dialect for 'French kiss'.
      What? French kiss?!
The writhing, fleshy tongue is a metaphor for a French kiss, right?
I smacked my forehead and left my palm there while I tried to suppress a grimace. How can a poem on repressed, ambivalent answers become one on a French mouth-to-mouth?

I should just stick to conducting chemical experiments.


Glove (Palmistry)

August 29, 2012 , 0 Comments


Each rivulet traces the path predestined. 

Scarlet foretells his longevity while tangerine reads the strength of his heart.Violet snakes across his palm, portending the tribulations and trials.

These colours speak of the diaphanous future, in voices that few understand. What vibrant and ominous colours.

So, would you want your future read?

Source Credit:


Cyclopentadienyl Managanese Ammine Dicarbonyl

August 24, 2012 0 Comments

I'm supposed to be adding chemicals to bubbling flasks, taking spectacular spectrograms (that I probably don't understand anyway) and inhaling more toxic-laced air. 

However, I've decided to draw virtual molecules instead. There's something about their austere forms that fascinate.

The spheres, each representing an atom, are satisfyingly rotund. Light glints on their surfaces. Every adjoining line represents the intangible connections between these spherical atoms. Very mathematical and very visual.

Profile of The Compound
They're reassuringly solid, with their partial symmetry and sense of balance.
Perpendicular View of Said Compound
Planar View of the Same Compound
What secrets do they conceal, these bouncing collections of atoms? Do they hold the key to answers greater than them?


Batik Workshop Ver. 3

August 20, 2012 0 Comments

Organised a Batik workshop today and was amazed by the creative energies saturating the atmosphere. 

The workshop began with a short history on Batik art, followed by an explanation of its principles. My friends were really focused as I gave the brief introduction. 

Quite an amazing workshop, one that produced beautiful works!

Adeline, using an inspired palette of ocher, yellow and umber, painted the Lion that is within her. Mreow! Rwarrr!

Tang Sheng, my tutor for a Chemistry module, did a wonderful piece that depicts the Green Dragon - one of the four spiritual guardians in Chinese mythology. Really proud of his work!

During the workshop, we entertained each other by making lame Science jokes. 

Jay did a piece which radiates joy. A lovely artwork with translucent colours!

Rachel seems to like her concentric circles of navy, turquoise and emerald. :]

Keren's artwork is inspired by a mitochondria. Not surprising since she's majoring in the Life Sciences! 

Hi, do I look like a mitochondria?

Everyone's investing themselves in their art! There was an incredible atmosphere of focus, energy and camaraderie.

Very glad that I organised this workshop so that my friends could create works that they then brought home to share with their loved ones. 

During the workshop, a kind lady happened to walk past. She took a look at a diptych and offered to buy it from me. I thought that she was making small talk and didn't really mean it. (I mean, I walk into galleries, ask about the price of paintings and walk out without buying anything quite frequently.) She then brought her husband and son to where the workshop was held and, after some discussion, decided to buy the diptych. She could see how shocked I was. I think I'm still in shock.

Tired, touched and thankful. Still digesting the experiences that today offered.


This Is Just To Say

August 17, 2012 , , 0 Comments

I have poured
you into
my test tube,

and you were
wholly tired
of being used.

Forgive me,
you were necessary,
so reactive a

*Adapted from Williams Carlos Williams' This Is Just To Say

Source credit: Photo-Dictionary.Com



August 12, 2012 0 Comments

Definition of SYCOPHANCY
: obsequious flattery; also : the character or behavior of a sycophant

Definition of SYCOPHANT

: a servile self-seeking flatterer


: preservation of oneself from destruction or harm
: a natural or instinctive tendency to act so as to preserve one's own existence

There is a thin line between being sycophantic and seeking self-preservation.

Sometimes, we say what people want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. We believe - perhaps correctly, perhaps incorrectly - that it serves both parties' interest if the whole truth is withheld. And so, it becomes a cloak-and-shadow game, where half-truths are bandied about and a little fawning goes a long way.

Sometimes, to survive, we need to be sycophantic, to suck up to our immediate superiors and pander to their whims. Buy chocolates to thank them for their 'guidance', write cards professing geysers of gratitude. Sing odes to their greatness.

What would one do, to attain that coveted promotion, prestige or position of power? What depths would one resort to? How much sacrifice is worth it? And is it even a sacrifice? Perhaps it's just a transaction? Of giving someone power over oneself in order to obtain power in turn?

What would you do? How much would you give up, trade away and hand over?

Maybe, it's easier not to survive. It takes a great deal of effort to swallow one's pride, to trample on years of teaching on what's right (and wrong), to flatter and fawn over superiors. If being sycophantic is what it takes to survive, then maybe, just maybe, it's difficult for one to preserve oneself from destruction.

Some may choose to break - rather than to bend - to the undercurrents of influence fluxing around them.

But there's a genetic compulsion to survive, honed over millenniums of struggle against other animals as well as elemental forces. We are here, reading these words on these screens, because our genetic ancestors have managed to duplicate themselves even when they were merely micro-organisms wriggling in a primordial soup.

Hence, we can only conclude with the truism that there must be a balance in everything we do. To hum sweet words when there is a need, to stand up for our beliefs if necessary. To have the wisdom to know when to be sycophantic and when not to, and to what extent in each context.

As usual, there are no easy solutions or ready answers.

Source credit: National Geographic


Lyrical Abstraction: Works by Jeremy Sharma and Yeo Shih Yun

August 07, 2012 0 Comments

Lyrical Abstraction presents two large painting installations which explore light and darkness, realism and abstraction.

Kurosawa by Jeremy Sharma (2012)
Enamel & polyurethane paint on aluminium panels
420 x 650 cm
Collection of Singapore Art Museum
In Kurosawa, Jeremy Sharma pours paint at specific angles to create panels of dichotomous colours. The black and white washes are inspired by Akira Kurosawa, whose films play on the use of hues and in which light and darkness represent good and evil respectively.

There is a quiet, meditative quality to this monochromatic work. There are no energetic and spontaneous strokes; there are no unfettered splashes of paint. What it offers is gently cascading streams of black paint against white-painted aluminum panels.

This artwork, with its understated simplicity, is easy to overlook. A few museum-goers actually walked past this wall installation without realising that it is an artwork! The artwork blends so readily into the background - and what does this imply about it then?

Conversations with Trees by Yeo Shih Yun
Video, digital photos, sketches & silk-screen painting on canvas
Variable dimensions
Collection of Singapore Art Museum
Yeo Shih Yun explores Chinese ink and pushes this traditional art in a different direction.

In Conversations with Trees, Yeo suspends brushes from trees and encourages the breezes to paint an abstract field of dabs, swabs and scratches. She captures the poetic movement of air, rendering the intangible tangible.

Then, with silk-screen printing, she transfers these serendipitous marks onto canvas.

There is a quiet grace to the artwork. It induces tranquility, peace.

Yeo also painstakingly documents her process of making this artwork. There were a few video documentaries, a series of photos and some notes. These materials contribute to a more nuanced appreciation of Conversations with Trees.

Brushes dancing in the wind.
Ink marks made by swaying brushes. A painting by the wind.
Sketches and photos reflecting Yeo's thought processes.
Very languorous pieces...


Thoughts to Think

August 04, 2012 0 Comments

Why do I reject offers/ opportunities so readily?

My instinctive reaction was to decline. To say 'no' with a smile and claim that I've articles to write/ poems to review/ artworks to paint/ experiments to run/ journals to look through. It has always been easy to dream up a host of reasons to turn down offers.

Why are there so few Singaporeans around?

In total, there were 17 people playing in the first few Frisbee matches. 1 was from France; another, from Indonesia; 8, from America and 7, from China. My friend and I were the only Singaporeans.

It felt disconcerting, to be the minority on home ground.

Why shouldn't I be offended?

"I've been a teacher for three years. I'll be studying for a Masters in University Administration this fall."

"Yes, I've heard. Studying in Stanford, right?' I replied politely.

"Yeah, Stanford. Have you heard of Stanford?"

For a while, I wondered if I should be insulted.

Why are chats about religion so discomforting?

We began with a chat on our majors in university, before talking about our meanings in life. It was interesting, how an Afro-American and a Singaporean can share so many common views.

The conversation slowly devolved into an intense talk on theosophy. He set up arguments that I recognised and, nevertheless, walked into. I didn't want to engage in the usual cloak-and-shadow arguments with him asking questions deigned to evoke a particular response so that he could prove his point. I didn't want to, really, but I did.

To be polite, I said what he wanted me to say so that he could continue with what he planned to say. It was all very tiring, this trying-to-be-nice facade.

So many half-formed thoughts, such brittle feelings. Got to take some time to examine them before I could move on. Or, perhaps, I should just leave them as they are. Pieces of jigsaw yet to come together.