Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Poem: A 100-year-old Bodhi Tree

A 100-year-old Bodhi Tree

I found it standing 
on a quiescent knoll
offering a lofty view 
of Paya Lebar
in part.

I wondered 
how it would feel like
if I could share 
the life of this tree –
one 7-year-old boy –
sitting beneath as he would 
40 years ago
and looking down 
the bucolic view
when all was green
as far as his eyes could see.

He would be sad indeed - 
very sad – knowing 
this tree of his roots
would be cut down 
40 years on and now...
how... how have we no room
for a gentle old tree?

Where it stands - be it
Buddhist or Taoist, Hindu or Sikh,
a temple, a mosque, 
church or synagogue,
 - the tree, wherever it may 
destined be,
provides its loving shade
to all in need.

Brethren, 
need we a better world for
multi-culturalism 
and ethnicity
and peace
than under a gentle tree?

Come brethren,
come touch this Bodhi Tree –
For it may soon be too late
to offer your hopes
that 100 years
 of loving kindness
will not be torn, shattered 
and gored
to splinters and dust.

- Joseph Lai

Poem: Mute Fingers

Mute Fingers

Bitter sweet waters
on a tearful strand;
his mute fingers
writing in the sand.

He could not enter,
he could not understand;
this benign ancient mariner
could not fathom the hearts of Man.

They worship diamonds so divine,
scorched from the bowels of the earth;
but of his sand-scripted shrine,
they rip asunder into the hearth.

And the four seas they divide,
claim and reclaim;
the master calligrapher did unite
all lands as the same.

Yet he remains a patient fisher
of simple women and men –
poets, painters, songwriters and seekers –
caught on a lark now and then.

You hear them in the children’s laughter,
you see them playing in the sea,
you see them in their mother and father,
and you can hear their hearts in plea.

A plea the plovers and the sandpipers
will understand;
for he was their teacher and provider
long before Man became Man.

- Joseph Lai


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Poem: My Little Candle

My Little Candle

my little candle
does shed
a little circle of light
which guides
my way in life
on a migratory flight

the warmth I feel
within my heart
it stay
and in the setting suns
on my horizon
does my spirit play

rejoice thus I
within its glow
a flicker on my cheeks does show
to smile with nature’s creations
whose names
I need not know

so might I remain
forever true and free
from snaring Dead Knowledge
to hold fast my candle vigil
over the lightness
of my passage

whence with age my eyes doth fail
I hope the sparkle within
to keep
and follow my heart
into the wonders
of a star-spangled sleep 

- Joseph Lai