Sunshine, Freedom and a Little Flower


For the first time my grandfather
walks slower than grandma;

they’ve been through WWII,
got here on boats and bicycles,

survived the Japanese Occupation
that forever changed our last name,

(or first name, in our culture)
and now we’re puttering at the mall

in Singapore, ex-British colony of immigrants
I left behind a decade ago.

They say I used to be a little monkey
jumping around,

hiding from the thin rattan cane they
would wave in my face.

Heck, most times I threw it
out the window or hid it in couches,

and more magically reappeared.
I prattle in rusty Teochew,

the clan’s dialect (first language I ever learnt);
Perhaps I’m too American now, Australian,

Have some more asparagus,

I try to pick up thin green spears with chopsticks,
while he declares solemnly:

Can’t, I have no teeth.
There’s no fortune cookie in the aftermath,

that’s purely an American concept.
If there had been one, mine would probably say:

Little flower got on plane aching for freedom
but come back for many sunshine.
Learn Chinese.

© Alicia Khoo

NaPoWriMo Day 21

“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”- Hans Christian Andersen



We call it

wolf tooth moon;

I raise my glass,

drink my fill of wind and snow.

Cycles of revolution by

intoxicated mortals

in this drunken era,

your grand plans are like

three thousand streams

of fresh water flowing east.

All the books of history

have scattered to dust,

I use my lack of regrets to

carve a tablet of devotion.

(You manifest into a butterfly)

If you squander this life away,

I raise my glass of wine

and promise to do the same

(so you are never alone);

I drink in wind and snow.

© Alicia Khoo

NaPoWriMo Day 17

Poem inspired by my translation of a contemporary, neo-classical Mandarin love song,

Fa Ru Xue (Your Hair is Like Snow) by Jay Chou

Music video found here:

Enjoy! 🙂