If we do not love each other
    how come the thought of you dissolves me, like sorrow?
    like the world being poured back into a dead lake
    bereft yet congenial

    Perhaps love is a burden, devoid of simplicity
    perhaps you would have been bored by happiness
    you would have found it dull

    Is your home in St. Gilles
    I imagine an etymologist's study
    the stag beetle I gave you, placed on a promontory
    facing a wall of books, other framed dead beetles

    I need to write you out of me
    like a diminishing carapace of dots and lines

    And after a few sips of whiskey
    I no longer think of you.... more »


    (Malay for ‘howl')
    And so he says it again

    through headlines screaming black bold Serif
    on undulating white perimeters

    Write − You will have the freedom to write -
    He says as he spouts jibber-jabber from pink, watery lips
    like swine-filled halos of doom
from the plume of corrupt plinths of marble arches
    stretched across the abyss of power,

    You, who have seized morality from cowards
    engaged in chit-chat over the rights

    To write - What is right?
stemming from pulsating vagus nerves
    wandering over loose craniums, viaduct throats
    binary clots, loose thoraxes, abdomens filled
    with bilious bull,

    You who rile with constipated gall

    You who sing the loose song of false freedoms

    You, who in toothless defense watch the night cower
    with homeless street urchins on Bukit Bintang

    hungry from spent mothers who spread their thin thighs
    to the glazed-eyed workers high from inhaling toiled
    humid days, sifting their morals and might from concrete
    constructing more pricks to adorn

    the history of this city of mud,

    Will you let us write of new pages by those
who in yellow-infused riotous colour

    betrayed the hallowed streets of the city
in the hundreds, in the tens and tens of thousands
    who fought back the tear-gassed alleys
    with brave tears and Maalox
and damp Good Morning towels
    armed with children who shrieked
    when the extra-strength gas laced
    their young eyes, nimble throats?

    Of those who were faced with the ends of black-eyed boots
    swirling batons, swallowing their own blood

    and the towering lies of a people's revolution

    pulsated by the wrath of pubescent
    policemen in nameless fatigues -
your shadow army, while we passed on
    mighty green, yellow balls
and sang bravely whilst clutching
    empty hand phones that gave not
    their paid networks, the final strains
    of the Negaraku,

    Will you let us write of the deaths in police custody
    in the corridors and balconies of the MACC, which
    in their silences welcomed the deaths
of those who did not deserve to die
    of the grazed back and bruised torso of Kugan
    of the twisted neck that Beng Hock did not use to bear
    of the sultry songs that she, with new breasts

    sang while she squatted and was made to lie
on soiled concrete floors?

    Or of the incandescent C4 that blew her up
and the unsinkable submarine that colludes you

    with an unspeakable crime, with

    the One of the wind-blown face and sticky hair of grime
    witch-doctor magic, that soiled her childhood with dark filth
    and the loin-cloths of bloodied cocks

    of the tiger child lulled by the wind
of the monsoons that birthed her -

    her legacy of guilt?

    Will you let us write of the hunger that sucks us
in meaningless traffic voids and unworthy

    side-kicked, bastardised mantras of feel-good phonetic tunes
    in between pin-pricks of holy spaces
in between cars that reek of carbon monoxide
the cacophony of Toyota's, Hyundai's

    Proton's and Myvi's

    that scream unholy visions
of cancer-ridden ploys?

    You, with emptied-out legions of xanax, cocaine and ecstasy
    who wither into the cunning dreams of spirit guardians
and the ghosts of suburbia, who with endless

    glee roam into your days and nights
    penetrating ethereal slumbers with porn-filled ease

    with the magnetic sweep of jazz, K-pop and gangsta-rap
    thump-pa-thum-thumping into the blackest of black nights,

    The city of mud and shadows will claim you
and night-toils reap you, of ingrained
once noble philosophies of Islam and Al-Afghani
    Hadrami traders who fought your wars
    made you sane and insane from the trollied bulwark

    of petroleum patsies, nightshade bullies who set
the motions of torture in pastured green camps

    where you made them write and sing unbridled anthems
    of mean civilian wars and with magnetic strains of
    Malaysia-Truly Asia,

    You who lull uncertain trash into

    our sullen skies, with more leaden lies

    and rare-earth plunders, the haze

    from forest fires of late night tangerine whores
    behind doors, willing to pay that little extra
    for, "Sir, I give you happy ending",

    And against the backdrop of a hundred thousand
    rainbow-clad warriors at Stadium Merdeka

    You know that we are free

    We are free
    We can be,

    Do not make it Your right
    to give us the right -

    We will always have

    the right to write,

    Yes Sir

    We will write a new text

    We will write a new beginning
    We will have a better ending
    We will write a new country,

    Free from fear

    from vicious ding-dong lies and decrepit cowardly threats -
    We deny this bongo-bongo land and its oil palm-republicanism
    and We will seek flight in the multi-coloured tapestry

    that Is this great country

    from the ends of this coloured cloak
of the new and old regal Malays, Indians, Chinese

    Iban, Penan, Kadazan-Dusun, Temuan

    Rungus, Ukit, Lahanan, Jahit, Chewong tribes
and the sullies of Allah and
whose tongue it suits -

    It suits us All and

    We take offence,

    You will not stop us

    and We will rise to fulfill
    the birthright that
Is this nation -
    We will write this
    in All our voices,

    And You
    Will listen.... more »


    Vindula dejone erotella
    Delias oraia
    Urania leilus
    Grapium sarpedon
    Appias nero figulina

    I repeat the names of common Malayan butterflies
    from the book that used to be on the long white shelf
    in our house in Taiping, where my memories begin

    I fear I will never recover
    I know this kind of love begins and ends with flowers
    not words, not alcohol, not tears
    not even sadness

    I am tired of the earth
    I remember catching butterflies - they lived
    for a while in tall glass bottles and once, a green Mino tin
    slowly their wings faded and turned
    into mellow dust, collecting ites
    like unwelcome strangers
    into a dark world

    I remember the orange and brown bedcover
    prickly to the touch, my green pinafore and sunflower curtains
    Ah Kong standing in his white shorts
    wondering where you are -
    it has been forty years, since you left me
    a child crying by the shattering sea -
    I fear I have never recovered

    I think I have outstayed my time
    unlike you, there is no more mourning
    there is no more darkening of the sky, of the
    liver, throat and spleen, of in-between coloured boats
    that ferry nightly metaphors to sweet darling madness

    the birds and cicadas are asleep
    the floods are gone
    but the butterflies -
    they still lie
    awake, in
    the garden.... more »