(#22/24): “Masterpiece”

The lady in black,

A profile of superciliousness,

Her manner haughty,

Turning away in disdain.


Some may think Madame Gautreau merely demure,

Her manner just an artifice,

Instructed in this manner and artistic pose,

By Sargent, that society painter of superficiality.


And yet, this scandalous work remains his tour de force,

A masterpiece of portraiture.

Time and critical appraisal have indeed

Been kind to his fame. And her reputation.


© 2017 S Phua

(#21/24): “Aggrandisement”

There is this orange bouffanted conman from Queens,

Who inflates practically everything it seems,

From the length of his hands, and height of his buildings,

To the size of his crowds, and all his ‘big’ winnings,

Let justice be served when the grand jury convenes.


© 2017 S Phua

(#20/24): “Relentlessness”

Along the winding canal where there was once

A long swath of overgrown grass,

That turned into mud whenever it rained,

Overnight, it was all gone.

The unruly ‘lallang’ removed, soil levelled,

And the ground topped over with concrete.


And yet, scarce months later,

The first green shoots sprouted up

And out through every single gap,

Nook and cranny in the concrete.

Modernity cannot be stopped,

But nature always finds a way.


© 2017 S Phua

(#19/24): “Vastness”

The International Space Station.

Our stepping stone to exploring beyond

The confines of our solar system.


The nations of the world

Continue to build this gateway to the stars,

Module by module.


And yet, this complex feat of science and engineering,

The largest man-made structure ever put into space,

Is still no bigger than a football field.


We are humbled by what we have yet to achieve.


© 2017 S Phua

(#18/24): “Allurement”

Would you like to come down, said the spider to the fly?

Are you not wearying of your buzzing peregrinations?

Could you not settle down for just a moment?

Will you come into my web of lies?

This enticing parlour of betrayal.

All for a moment of respite.


The spirit is willing, but the flesh is invariably weak.

Surrender then, to the inevitable.

Enter my domain of regret,

And be trapped, helpless as a babe,

In this fatal plight of my weaving, and your weakness.

As I approach, you struggle to no avail.


Your end is nigh.


© 2017 S Phua

(#17/24): “Obliteration”

They were my tomes from childhood.

A retreat from the drudgery of schoolwork,

That I would escape to at every opportunity.

They were my books.


What followed was a wanton calamity

Akin to the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

A catastrophe that could have been prevented,

Had I not neglected to peruse them all this time.


This annihilation was years in the making.

A combination of relentless monsoon rain,

A gradual erosion of soil,

And weak wooden walls in the subterranean.


Those damned termites grew in hordes.

Remorselessly eating their way into my home.

Munching through every page cover to cover,

Turning all my precious volumes into cellulose pulp.


Realisation came belatedly.

The exterminators were too late.

Everything was absolutely destroyed.

I am bereft at this devastating loss.


© 2017 S Phua

(#16/24): “Parity”

This growing divide between rich and poor,

That disparity between obscene wealth and abject poverty,

A gap which grows only larger, not narrower,

Fills me with great anger.


Would I to take up my bow and arrows as Robin of the Hood,

A pair of pistols as the Highwayman Dick Turpin,

Or rapier of justice as Zorro rides once more,

And roaming the high seas as did Black Bart.


I would love to redress this grave balance.

Relieving the bourgeoisie of their affluence,

And redistributing to the proletariat.

A Holy Terror to the Ungodly.


© 2017 S Phua

(#15/24): “Longing”

Along the Wei River,

My train meanders its way through Shaanxi.

Even as the Loess Plateau degrades,

Apple trees can still bloom in spring.


I recall steaming bowls of hot soup

Generously ladled out by mother.

I whet my lips in anticipation.

In my mind, I am already home.


© 2017 S Phua

(#14/24): “Apocalypse”

“Bank manager suspected of peculating”,

Screamed the evening tabloid

Which I glimpsed through the steam in the sauna.

I had my raincoat on when I left,

Which shielded me when frogs began raining down,

On the children in the playground.

In the mayhem, an elbow caught my side,

Scattering the jars of jam,

And bags of fresh tomatoes I had bought.

It was a mystery that was never solved.


© 2017 S Phua

(#13/24): “Rejection”

There once was a man from Richmond.

Who thought he was God’s gift to women.

His dressing was risible.

His pick-up lines farcical.

So his chances were none in a million.


© 2017 S Phua

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