Bukit Brown (a poem)


         bukit brown


i                       cheng meng


pre-cheng meng

the tombs well marked

not by colourful squares

not by fuming incense

but by uniform vertical

white stakes shafted

a bit to the left

little men in white

with blood colour numerals

hastily stenciled on

like condemned running dogs


ii                     634A


this is grave

to be marked by a used tyre

and untamed creepers

the only one with the suffix A

like an upstairs flat for lodgers

a relation of six three four

an oversight


iii                    till death


do we part

it had seem not

buried side by side

together even in death

when exhumed

are we in one jar or two


iv                     riders


the riders thank me

in sharp aussie nasal

as their horses clip-clop by

through ancestral homes

on their way to oblivion


v                      fairies


two fairies

one the moon the other the star

facing each other

on either side of eng neo

one slightly lilting

right arm raised sleeves flowed down

their almond shaped eyes

with mossy liner



vi                     punjab


the sikh guards stand erect

wearing crimson turbans

bearing british army rifles

with dark brown handles

neither they nor the little white

dogs by their black boots

can stop the ravage of the

savage logic of progress


vii                    crouching


a  white tiger flanks the right

snarling or smiling

a green dragon on the left

exchanging anxious looks



viii                  jannie


peck neo ( jannie) lived to thirty nine

died in nineteen thirty three

her husband lived to seventy three

dying six years later

an acceptable math

in pre-war high society


ix                     come


i come to bukit brown today

quite quite out of the blue

my ancestors long exhumed

and trapped in jars

for those who will soon be

raised and put away

i rue


 (3 march 2012 )    


Copyright Madeleine Lee

Not to be reproduced without permission


Bio: madeleine lee is an investment manager who also writes poetry. she has published 5 volumes of poetry. she has been sweeping great grand relatives’ tombs there since she was a little kid.