Love’s Conundrum

Life’s been busy lately. A lot has happened. A lot to be taken in. All at once. But life goes on. So here’s a new poem, because I love writing poems and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

This one’s for the Malaysian Writer’s FB group. There’s a poetry prompt every Wednesday, and I look forward to it. The word for this week is ‘love’.

Autumn in Mt. Meili National Park (October 2013)
Autumn in Mt. Meili National Park, Shangri-La, Yunnan Province, China (October 2013)

Love’s Conundrum

Love’s lost; Love’s gained
Doesn’t it drive one insane

Why is it that humans seek
Love in every cranny; both strong and meek

Why can’t we be left on the shelves
Existing wholly by ourselves

Why can’t the clock stop ticking
Let us smell the roses and enjoy living

Why can’t we set up house alone
With gardens, cats, Internet and phone

Why must pesky relatives ask
When’s your turn? Best get on the task

Pesky relatives leave; be gone!
Mind your brood; your day here is done

No love’s been lost; no love’s been gained
Let’s love ourselves today; no time to be pained

 

Khor Hui Min
2 July 2015

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At the Crossroads

For this week’s Malaysian Writers FB page poetry challenge, the word prompt was ‘crossroad’. I decided to write a piece inspired by sad news of human trafficking uncovered up north. When people are driven by profits, they can even view other fellow human beings as animals or even objects to be traded. 😦

Tulipmania @ Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

At the Crossroads

At the crossroads; junction of life
Which way to go, left or right?
Can the past be severed with a knife?
Can you win without a fight?

Pack your bags; escape is nigh
Be light and strong; steel your mind
Be brave; hold your head up high
Unchain the shackles that bind

Run out the door; close it back tight
Look to the front; don’t turn back
Move those legs, with all your might
Once you’re out; never come back

Godspeed and good luck
May the heavens smile kindly
Upon your weathered soul
And bring you to safe haven swiftly

Khor Hui Min
10 June 2015

Dedication
This poem is dedicated to the long-suffering victims of human trafficking

Maybe

Wheeeee…. we are at the half-way point of the 2015 A to Z Challenge! 😀  For all participating bloggers, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. 🙂

For my 13th post for the  Blogging A to Z Challenge, I wrote a poem entitled MAYBE.

M is for MAYBE

Maybe

Maybe if we looked a certain way
People would take notice
So life would be less grey
It’ll just take a bit of practise

Maybe if we spoke in a trendy way
We would be more popular
That would make our day
Not as hard as pulling a molar

Maybe if we mixed with a certain crowd
Instantly, gain more respect
Enough to make us proud
Wouldn’t life be just perfect?

Maybe if we splurged on expensive things
To draw attention to our uppity tastes
Mustn’t forget the bling
It wouldn’t be merely a waste

Maybe if we joined a cliché or two
Dress and look just like them
And ape what they do
Feel like we can be sparkly gems

What if you max out your cards
Gold, diamond and platinum
Would they help clean up the shards
From your life gone wrong; or just play dumb?

Maybe you should try to be you
There’s nobody quite like you
Special, unique, custom-made
Your shining star will never fade

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
15 April 2015

A beautiful white lotus flower in Clearwater Sanctuary, Perak.
A beautiful white lotus flower in Clearwater Sanctuary, Perak.

Sitting on the sidelines

Today’s a public holiday in Malaysia, so I managed to find some time to write a poem on sustainable consumption to promote environmental awareness. 🙂  Being environmentally friendly is not rocket science – everybody can do it. But we’ll leave the hybrid cars, solar energy and wind power generation to the pros. 🙂

Ma'Daerah Beach, Terengganu
Ma’Daerah Beach, Terengganu during sunrise. It is a turtle sanctuary and the beach is closed to the public to prevent people from disturbing nesting turtles.

Sitting on the sidelines

As the globe spins, and time flies by
The world is a-changing
Most think they are just passers-by

But life as we know it is shifting
So what shall we do?
Sit on the sidelines, never engaging?

The climate is changing, oh woe
The sea level’s a-rising
You see it on the evening news, too

Precious life, away it is slipping
What can be done?
And the world population is exploding

Nothing is constant; will it all be gone?
Will we disappear under the seas
Forever lost; only shadows and bones?

Nothing is forever, even the trees
But that doesn’t mean we should do naught
Right the wrongs; there’s no place to flee

The error of our ways; were they taught?
Live sustainably; reduce our footprint
Let’s share our ideas and thoughts

If not, all will be in vain; take a hint
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Ignite your creativity like flint

Choose to carpool and cycle
Switch off the lights when you leave the room
Let not your habits be your manacles

Tis not a herald of gloom and doom
But plan what you want to buy
Meat, greens, fruits, mushrooms

Reduce food waste; easy as pie
Practise and it’ll become a habit
And if you don’t really need it, don’t buy

One’s only a drop in the ocean; a tiny bit
But if all were committed; that would be the seed

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
5 October 2014

Corals
Corals

Poetic style

This poem was written in the style of a terza rima – an Italian form of poetry first used by Dante Alighieri.

A terza rima consists of stanzas of three lines (or tercets). It follows an interlocking rhyming scheme, or chain rhyme – the middle of each stanza rhymes with the first and last line of the following stanza. However, there is no set length to this form, as long as it follows the pattern as follows:

ABA
BCB
CDC
DED

The last stanza will be a couplet rhyming with the middle line of the previous stanza. In this case, EE.

So here is my poem again with the rhyming scheme shown:

Sitting on the sidelines

(A) As the globe spins, and time flies by
(B) The world is a-changing
(A) Most think they are just passers-by

(B) But life as we know it is shifting
(C) So what shall we do?
(B) Sit on the sidelines, never engaging?

(C) The climate is changing, oh woe
(D) The sea level’s a-rising
(C) You see it on the evening news, too

(D) Precious life, away it is slipping
(E) What can be done?
(D) And the world population is exploding

(E) Nothing is constant; will it all be gone?
(F) Will we disappear under the seas
(E) Forever lost; only shadows and bones?

(F) Nothing is forever, even the trees
(G) But that doesn’t mean we should do naught
(F) Right the wrongs; there’s no place to flee

(G) The error of our ways; were they taught?
(H) Live sustainably; reduce our footprint
(G) Let’s share our ideas and thoughts

(H) If not, all will be in vain; take a hint
(I) Reduce, reuse, recycle
(H) Ignite your creativity like flint

(I) Choose to carpool and cycle
(J) Switch off the lights when you leave the room
(I) Let not your habits be your manacles

(J) Tis not a herald of gloom and doom
(K) But plan what you want to buy
(J) Meat, greens, fruits, mushrooms

(K) Reduce food waste; easy as pie
(L) Practise and it’ll become a habit
(K) And if you don’t really need it, don’t buy

(L) One’s only a drop in the ocean; a tiny bit
(L) But if all were committed; that would be the seed

To find out more about the terza rima poetic style, visit the Young Writers’ Website.

Imagine

This is the fifth poem in my social commentary series. The theme for this poem is unity in diversity. Prejudice and discrimination are concepts which should be relegated to history, as in the past. Let the future hold the promise for a better world, where people are not discriminated against because they are the minority, look different, have different beliefs, are of a different social status, and so on.

Imagine

Imagine
A world that does not
Look at one’s colour

Imagine
Communities without boundaries
Not limited by their prejudices

Imagine
That our strength lies in diversity
Not in discrimination against minority

Imagine
That one’s neighbours
Are friends and kindred spirits

Imagine
Humanity as one big family
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers

Imagine
Tolerance as acceptance of differences
Embracing and unifying in harmony

Don’t try to classify people
According to one’s perception
Wouldn’t the world be a better place?

 

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
5 August 2014

The Ancient Mariner

UPDATE: The Ancient Mariner was published in the September 2014 issue of The Malaysian Naturalist, a quarterly magazine published by the Malaysian Nature Society, the oldest and largest homegrown environmental NGO in Malaysia. The magazine is sold through subscription and also available on newsstands. To find out more about MNS and the Naturalist, visit www.mns.my.  🙂

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Here is the fourth poem in my social commentary series. Hope you like it. 🙂

The Ancient Mariner

She swims the oceans tirelessly
By instinct, she navigates the waters
A skilled veteran mariner, truly

Legends of her, the ocean whispers
Her courage and grace, admired by all
Countless battles won; triumphant survivor

Tales of her and her kind enthrall
Told as folktales to children of all ages
Her victories could fill a noble hall

Stories written of her filled millions of pages
Some true accounts, some fiction
Her conquests and successes outdo mages

An inspiration for many a generation
Her survival has now been threatened
Problems must be addressed by nations

The ancient mariner’s ranks have been decimated
The ocean has become a minefield
Her home with dangers riddled

Trawlers and fishing nets to increase yield
Egg collection for consumption continue
Will the polluted beaches ever be healed?

Beaches with confusing lights of every hue
Black market demand for hawksbill shells unabated
Dangers to the ancient mariner, to name just a few

Leave her eggs to hatch in the sand, uninterrupted
There’s no data to support the claims
The purported benefits are not validated

Leave the ancient mariner to fulfil her aims
Her world, we should let her reclaim

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
26 July 2014

Turtle hatchling who dug its way out of its nest at Ma’Daerah Turtle Sanctuary, Kerteh, Kemaman, Terengganu. It will be released later at night.
Turtle hatchling who dug its way out of its nest at Ma’Daerah Turtle Sanctuary, Kerteh, Kemaman, Terengganu, Malaysia. It will be released later at night.

Message 

Sea turtles are ancient creatures who have roamed the planet’s oceans for a very long time. They have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, along with the sharks and crocodiles. They are unique because they are air-breathing reptiles who live in the sea. Once the little hatchlings emerge from their eggs and head out to sea, they will remain in the sea indefinitely. The adult females will only return to the beaches where they were born to lay clutches of eggs once in a few years. The adult males never come back to land.

Imagine if a turtle comes back to lay eggs on her beach only to discover that a busy resort has been constructed on it, or it is a popular tourist spot flooded with confusing lights at night, or that it has been polluted beyond recognition. These are just some of the hazards that sea turtles have to endure to lay their eggs safely. In addition, sea turtles drown every year because they get entangled in fishing nets. Unable to come up to the surface to breath, they die a watery death.

So, do your part to help the turtles. Keep your nesting beaches clean and free of obstructions. Don’t flood them with lights at night. Last, but not least, don’t buy and eat their eggs. Don’t let the sea turtles go the way of the dodo.

Poetic style

This poem was written in the style of a terza rima – an Italian form of poetry first used by Dante Alighieri.

A terza rima consists of stanzas of three lines (or tercets). It follows an interlocking rhyming scheme, or chain rhyme – the middle of each stanza rhymes with the first and last line of the following stanza. However, there is no set length to this form, as long as it follows the pattern as follows:

ABA
BCB
CDC
DED

The last stanza will be a couplet rhyming with the middle line of the previous stanza. In this case, EE.

So here is my poem again with the rhyming scheme shown:

The Ancient Mariner

(A)  She swims the oceans tirelessly
(B)  By instinct, she navigates the waters
(A)  A skilled veteran mariner, truly

(B)  Legends of her, the ocean whispers
(C)  Her courage and grace, admired by all
(B)  Countless battles won; triumphant survivor

(C)  Tales of her and her kind enthrall
(D)  Told as folktales to children of all ages
(C)  Her victories could fill a noble hall

(D)  Stories written of her filled millions of pages
(E)  Some true accounts, some fiction
(D)  Her conquests and successes outdo mages

(E) An inspiration for many a generation
(F) Her survival has now been threatened
(E) Problems must be addressed by nations

(F) The ancient mariner’s ranks have been decimated
(G) The ocean has become a minefield
(F)  Her home with dangers riddled

(G) Trawlers and fishing nets to increase yield
(H)  Egg collection for consumption continue
(G) Will the polluted beaches ever be healed?

(H) Beaches with confusing lights of every hue
(I)   Black market demand for hawksbill shells unabated
(H) Dangers to the ancient mariner, to name just a few

(I)  Leave her eggs to hatch in the sand, uninterrupted
(J)  There’s no data to support the claims
(I)  The purported benefits are not validated

(J) Leave the ancient mariner to fulfil her aims
(J) Her world, we should let her reclaim

To read more about the terza rima poetic style, visit the Young Writers’ Website.

Pretty Ugly

Since I feel that I should write meaningful stories and messages in the form of poems, I continue my social commentary series with a piece on animal adoption. In the spirit of The Writer’s Tower theme for July, PARADOX, I am writing a poem inspired by two words – ‘pretty ugly’. Pretty ugly is an oxymoron, which is defined as a compressed paradox – a figure of speech in which contradictory terms are paired together.

 

The one I found

An evening nigh four years ago
I was driving home just so
Double speed bumps; slowed down
A tiny shape walked in front; no sound
Where did it go? Oh, no!
Screeched to a halt; was it below?
In the beam of the headlights’ glow
A tiny dirty little kitty, I found
An evening nigh four years ago
Two-week-old kitten; no mum in sight; woe
So little tortoise shell came home, you know
Pretty ugly little thingy; white, black and brown
It wasn’t easy, but bit by bit, she grew round
Pretty ugly little thingy grew into a beauty; best in town
An evening nigh four years ago; my darling, found

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
17 July 2014

Keisha, the tortoise shell cat
Keisha, the tortoise shell cat

Message

This poem is about animal adoption. Homeless and neglected pets discarded by their owners are a growing concern all over the world. Rather than pay a lot of money to buy a cute fluffy pet from a pet shop, why not give a poor pet in a pet shelter a second chance at finding a forever home? People can get a second chance, and so can animals, too. So, if I can find a cat that behaves like a loyal and protective dog, you can also find a wonderful companion or two or three. 🙂

Visit your local pet shelter today, if you want to adopt a pet. You can also visit an online website for pet adoption. For example, you can visit the Petfinder website. I put the photos of 4 kittens from a stray up for adoption on this website, and they were all adopted within 2 weeks. So, the website is indeed effective.

Poetic style

This poem was written in the style of a Rondeau – a short poem consisting of fifteen lines that have two rhymes throughout. The first few words or phrase from the first line are repeated twice in the poem as a refrain. So, you can see the poem with the rhyming shown below. The capital A is the refrain (a sentence repeated from the first line).

(a) An evening nigh four years ago
(a) I was driving home just so
(b)  Double speed bumps; slowed down
(b)  A tiny shape walked in front, no sound
(a)  What was that? Did I hit it? Oh, no!
(a)  Screeched to a halt; was it below?
(a)  In the beam of the headlights’ glow
(b)  A tiny dirty little kitty, I found
(A)  An evening nigh four years ago
(a)  Two-week-old kitten; no mother in sight; woe
(a)  So little tortoise shell came home, you know
(b)  Pretty ugly little thingy; white, black and brown
(b)  It wasn’t easy, but bit by bit, she grew round
(a)  Pretty little ugly thingy grew into a beauty; best in town
(A)  An evening nigh four years ago; my darling, found

To read more about the Rondeau poem style, visit the Young Writers’ Website.

Be cruel to be kind

Today, the social commentary continues. I managed to weave in the social commentary theme into my July submission for The Writer’s Tower FB page.The poem was conceptualized while I was dutifully doing my (healthy) evening jog after cooking and eating dinner with family. Mundane, I know, but such is the life of a working-class female.

The Writer’s Tower is an open group for writers to share their ideas and prose. Every month, they have a theme to write on, and one can write and submit a piece in any style and genre. July 2014′s theme is PARADOX, and if one were able to include the bonus word(s) ‘football’ or ‘time for a bite’ in the piece, that would garner a Writer’s Tower Medal! 🙂

My poem for today focuses on the topic of conflct among people with different outlooks and ideals. I wanted to say something about the sad state of affairs in different parts of the world, where the sound of gunfire is a reocurrent daily theme. However, when I think of this topic, I am at the same time grateful that my country is a peaceful and harmonious place to live in; that I will not get shot at while driving to work; nor come home to a looted and burning house. I am thankful that I can go out to any shop and buy my daily necessities, and have access to clean water and wholesome food every day. Amen.

 

Be cruel to be kind

Big Sergeant said:
Hey, boy! Stand up straight
Hold it steady; don’t be a maid
Look smart; watch your gait
Mama’s boy, we’ve got a raid
Hurry up, don’t make me wait
Handsomely, we’ll be paid
We’ll show them their fate
Our vengeance shall never fade
I’m sure they’ll take the bait
The boy will learn; a soldier made
Be cruel to be kind

The Boy said to himself:
Let’s go shoot them up
He’s only thinking of his pelf
And how to blow things up
Only I can save myself
School is no more; grow up
Bye football, he said to himself
Dreams of playing the game? Wake up
I hope mother is taking care of herself
They won’t allow me to look her up
Only a memory on the mantelshelf
Be cruel to be kind

Mother remembering her son:
My dear boy, how long has it been?
Gunfire in the streets; the blasts go on
Immediately, I think of you, sad and lean
It’s cold, remember to put your coat on
I worry for you; you are only a teen
No more school, but life goes on
Keep your head down; don’t be seen
Time for a bite; don’t miss meals, son
Those who took you, they are so mean
I want to call every day, but I can’t
Be cruel to be kind

So the conflict goes on forever
They killed my people; I must kill theirs
Make their blood flow like a river
Put an end to all their heirs
So what if there’s fever?
Children must fight; who cares?
To survive, they must be clever
They must claim what is rightfully theirs
So the cycle continues unbroken, forever
Nobody wants to give up; who dares?
Nobody wants to give in; you will suffer
Do we have to be cruel to be kind?

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
15 July 2014

Dedication
This poem is dedicated to all the children surviving in war-torn countries. I hope you stay strong and never lose hope. Sometimes, only hope is what you have, but it can get you through bad days and tight spots, and one day you will make it out alive, and grow up to lead a meaningful and successful life.

Glossary
pelf – money, especially when gained in a dishonest or dishonourable way.
mantelshelf – a shelf above a fireplace.

See the definitions in Oxford Dictionaries Online.

Why do you try so hard?

As writers, what can we say? Does what we say matter? Can we truly make a difference in the world through our words? That was my thought for today, and so that first thought led to the urge to write a social commentary.

 

Best version of you

Why
Why do you
Why do you try?
Try so hard?

Just be
Be yourself
Just love yourself
Love all your curves

Do you know, girl
You are the best
The best version
Best of you

Your hair
Your skin
Your nose
Your eyes

Your waist
Your eyebrows
Your arms and legs
Your curves and valleys

You are the best version
The best version of you
You should love
Love yourself

You don’t need
Don’t need to
Try so very hard
To please others

Because, girl
Don’t you know?
You are the best
Best version of you

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
14 July 2014

 

Inspiration
This poem was inspired by the single Try by Grammy Award-winning, singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat. The song was released on her new EP, Gypsy Heart Side A. It makes a strong statement about beauty ideals. Actually, I wrote the poem while I was listening to the song. 🙂  You can see the video and hear the song at LifeBuzz.

Poetic style
This poem was written in the style of a shape poem. A shape poem describes something in prose as well as shape. To find out more about shape poems, visit the Young Writers’ Website.