(Hour 4 of 24) “Truce”

“Come, let us take a drink and go to bed.” *

Must we fight till we are dead?

No recrimination, nor bitter tears,

Or prejudices over the years,

This illogical sum of all our fears

The day is done, and so must we.


Tomorrow is another day,

New opportunities to find our way,

There are no easy answers.

But let us not miss those chances,

To tear down our fences,

And find resolutions, difficult they may be.


© 2021 S Phua


*(Final line from ‘The Hand of Glory’, in ‘The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, Volume Three – The Dark Angel’ by Seabury Quinn; Night Shade Books; 2018.)

(Hour 3 of 24) “Travels with my Aunt”

A whirlwind force of nature,

A raconteur of tall tales,

A sharer of far too many things personal,

And a possessor of the heartiest laughs.


An unerring nose for bargains,

An eagle eye for unique sights,

An instinct for always taking the road less trodden,

The very model of the intrepid rambler.


She fusses after me,

The better driver undoubtedly,

Making the decisions I am happy to delegate,

The very best travelling companion one could have.


My dearest Aunt,

You are my anchor in this uncertain world,

My fount of life’s wisdom,

Who will never steer me wrong.


© 2021 S Phua

(Hour 2 of 24) “cuppa connection”

The White Stripes blasting in my ears,

palms slapping a relentless tattoo,

fingers strumming an invisible guitar,

the music builds to a crescendo,

and I am a go…


“Excuse me, you are next,” she taps my elbow.


I turn sharply and see this vision, this russet-flamed goddess.

with round glasses that accentuate her cerulean eyes,

the tiniest of wrinkles that relay her joie de vivre,

and her little smile as she humours my slack-jawed reaction.


“Er, um, thanks, sorry, thanks,” I mutter and stutter in embarrassment.


I step forward to greet the grinning barista.

I convey my order, God knows what it was.

I am ever conscious of her beguiling presence.

This invisible force that compels me to look, once more.


I do, and she is not there.

I swivel and scan.

I locate her belatedly.


She is already out the door, phone on ear,

laughing gaily, a lilt in her voice

going forth into the unknown.


She leaves my life.


And I, bereft, return to mine.


© 2021 S Phua

(Hour 1 of 24) “waiting”

“Am I getting better, daddy?” she asks me.

tubes and needles everywhere

poking, intruding, drawing, taking,

all without a moment’s respite.

“Yes, you are, my little angel”, I lie to her with false alacrity.


“Am I getting better, daddy?” she asks me.

chemicals that bleach her into pallor

drugs that take away her crowning glory of soft, golden curls

foreign bodies that they pump to defile her.

“Yes, you are, my little angel”, I convince her, and me, with base cruelty.


“Am I getting better, daddy?” she asks me.

smiling bravely through tears of pain

sensing an inevitability

with every tortured breath, she slips away.

“Yes, you are, my little angel”, I whisper with accepted finality.


© 2021 S Phua

“(Hour 12 of 12) at last”

Well, our time is up, said my shrink with a wink.

Our little session certainly went in a blink.

You’ve talked about the people but they’re all in the past,

And it’s good that you let it all out at last.

But it’s all ancient history,

Like L.P. Hartley* says, it’s a foreign country.

The future out there is what’s paramount.

Life is short, so make it count.


You certainly do things differently here, I ventured.



* “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

(Opening line in The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley, 1953.)



© 2020 S Phua

“(Hour 11 of 12) bucket list”

Now, being footloose and fancy free,

Where would you like to be, my shrink said he.


It can be mystical, a place of myth,

Or a spot that’s on many a list.


Well, I’ve never been to Timbuctoo,

And I would love to go to Xanadu.


Wherever this wondrous location,

May it be my final destination.



© 2020 S Phua

“(Hour 10 of 12) cat’s song”

He now plays me a song,

It’s Cat Steven’s Moonshadow,

Come on now, sing along,

Do you feel fine and just mellow?


I think that dude was so chill,

For whatever happens to you,

Just pick yourself up, deal with it,

C’est la vie, and never quit.



© 2020 S Phua

“(Hour 9 of 12) random words”

Some placards he now shows me,

What do you make of them, said he.


These random words I survey,

And my thoughts to him I convey.

I think it would be better,

If I just put them all together.


Outside my cottage by the treeline last night,

I caught a firefly in a bottle and closed it tight.

Now I have lethargy, and the heat is strange today,

So I took off me mask and had me porridge on the way,

Shuffling despondently to my doom,

My daily morning meeting by Zoom.



© 2020 S Phua

“(Hour 8 of 12) emotional emoji”

You said you liked to text, asked he.

And smirked, do you ever emoji?


I look at him with scorn.

Such poor wit, such corn!


Emojis are fine enough, I proclaimed.

But they are still so limited, I declaimed.


There’s never enough of them distinctly,

To capture my thoughts succinctly.



© 2020 S Phua

“(Hour 7 of 12) season of the sea”

How idyllic, says he.

What else can you tell me?

For in all honesty,

Full disclosure is key.


It was a Channel crossing,

From Dover to Calais,

The sea was rough and rousing,

And walking was like dancing a ballet.


I had no sea legs, I was reeling,

My wits and breakfast were all asunder,

To the loo I went a-heaving,

Old Davy Jones had his plunder.


I never felt this way before, nor since.

For I have a strong constitution.

And little makes me wince,

Nor stir my noble disposition.



© 2020 S Phua