john tiong chunghoo

(Jan 21,1960 / NEW YORK)

When I am Old


When I am Old

when i am old, wrinkled and
a bundle of bungled energy
and nobody is interested in me
i will learn to paint and will
like the children do my apples
blue, pink and white, in between of which
i will doodle my tongue and eyes

my elephants will have all their trunks
aiming at the moon and my ants
the size of cakes crawling
across the paper to a distant promised land

my birds will be graceful upside down threes
scouring the clear blue sky for paradise
and my house a brown box that smiles in red,
its windows two eyes the size of matchboxes
perhaps large enough to place world's peace

A child is large as the freedom in the sky,
the days i sprouted wings to span the world.
it is when you can fly your thoughts anyway
you like and everybody would fly and laugh with you

and when i write my poems i am that child returning
to the man to nudge him from his muddled self
the colour of my white hair will be the ink to paint the hurt lines
it is in the heart that they are kept
and there, over the white are
the rainbow of a life remembered

second version of the poem above.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

when i am old, wrinkled and a bundle of bungled energy
and nobody is interested in me, i will learn to paint and will
like the children do my apples blue, pink and white, in between of which i will doodle my tongue and eyes

my elephants will have all their trunks up
aiming for the moon and my ants the size of cakes
crawling across the paper to a distant promised land

my birds will be graceful upside down threes
scouring the clear blue sky for paradise
and my house a brown box that smiles in red,
its windows two eyes the size of matchboxes
perhaps large enough to place world's peace

A child is large as the freedom in the sky, the days
i sprouted wings to span the world.
it is when you can fly your thoughts anyway
you like and everybody would fly and laugh with you
nobody would brand you insane they will just say, that's you a child.'

and when i write my poems i am that child returning
to the man to wake him up from his muddled self
the colour of my white hair will be the ink to paint
the hurt lines either you see it or not does not matter
it is in the heart that they are kept
and there, over the white are
the rainbow of a life remembered

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

rewritten from below;

when i am old, wrinkled
and looks a bundle of bungled energy
and nobody is interested in me,
i will learn to paint and will
like the children paint my apples
blue, pink and white
my elephants all their trunks up
my ants the size of my cakes
and my birds a graceful upside down threes
measuring the cloudy sky
my house a simple box with
an arch roof in red and windows
the size of matchboxes
when people ask me why
i hope i dare say 'a child is
the freedom in the sky.
it is when you can fly
your thoughts anyway you like
and nobody would brand you mad.
they will just say, that's you a child.'
and when i write my poems
i am that child returning to the man
to wake him up from his muddled self
the colour of my white hair will be
the ink to paint the hurt lines
either you see it or not does not matter
it is in the heart that they are kept
and there, over the white are
the rainbow of a life remembered


hen i am old, wrinkled
and looks a bundle of bungled energy
and nobody is interested in me,
i will learn to paint and will
like the children paint my apples
blue, pink and white
my elephants with all their trunks up
my ants will be the size of my cakes
and my birds graceful upside down threes
measuring the cloudy sky
my house will be a simple box with
an arch roof that is red and
its windows will have the size of matchboxes
when people ask me why
i hope i dare say 'a child is
the freedom in the sky.
it is when you can fly
your thoughts anyway you like
and nobody would brand you mad.
they will just say, that's you a child.'
and when i write my poems
i am that child returning to the man
to wake him up from his muddled self
the colour of my white hair will be
the ink to paint the hurt lines
either you see it or not does not matter
it is in the heart that they are kept
and there, over the white are
the rainbow of a life remembered




second version from:

when i am old, wrinkled and
looks a bundle of bungled energy
when nobody would be interested in me,
because of my lines, and my hair which
has become random tufts of white
i will learn to paint and will like the children
do my apples in blue, pink and white
my elephants will have all their trunks up
and my ants the size of my cakes
my birds will be graceful upside down threes
triumphantly scouring and measuring the sky
and my house a simple dream box topped with
a roof glazed in red
the windows will be the size of matchboxes

when people ask me about their deviations
this is this what i would say to them -
'a child is the freedom in the sky. it is when
you can fly your thoughts anyway you like
and nobody would brand you mad.
they will just say, that's you a child.'

when i write my poems i am that child
returning to the man to wake him up
from his muddled self
the colour of my white hair will be
the ink to paint the hurt lines
either you see it or not
it is in the heart they are kept
and there, over the white, i tell you, are
the rainbow of a life remembered

third version:

when i am old, wrinkled
and looks a bundle of bungled energy
and nobody is interested in me,
i will learn to paint and will
like the children paint my apples
blue, pink and white
my elephants will have all their trunks up
and my ants the size of my cakes
my birds will be graceful upside down threes
measuring the clear blue sky
and my house a simple box with
an arched roof in red and windows
the size of matchboxes

when people ask me why
i hope i dare say 'a child is
the freedom in the sky.
it is when you can fly your
thoughts anyway you like
and nobody would brand you mad.
they will all be revved up by
your your innocence
that bless their world no end
they will just say, that's you a child,
not knowing how much that is
for the father of the man.'

and when i write my poems
i will be that child returning to the man
to wake him up from his muddled self
the colour of my white hair will be
the ink to paint the hurt lines
either you see it or not
it is in the heart that they are kept
and there, over the white will be
the rainbow of a life remembered

Submitted: Sunday, March 24, 2013
Edited: Saturday, May 17, 2014

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