Anne Lee Tzu Pheng

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1.
Air and Angels
Words at random conjure in inner space
a far mirror of chaos, yet tantalise as
in the deep they flaunt spinpoints of light
glancing off suns and fired in their ancient dance.
I summon any, and all with angelic grace in
their great scatterings, to shape
constellations out of the nebulous
light now reaching to us, reaching
through aeons of photons
flashing marvels to become
this little numen in my hand,
sprung like the genius of the flame but
a Spirit more generous, and more
gracious than any called forth by command.

Time is of no account: no matter;
this gathering of breath,
words in harmony or discord from
primal depths surface in this
moment: angels emergent, awoken
take wing, unless pulled together
by the lines we cast to catch them in, so
to set into stellar tapestries
of cosmic maps, the celestial deeps
proclaiming fantastic exhalation of stars,
starbursting into infinity.

Such are these words: assembling a thing
infinitesimal among its kind, held in
a matrix of sound and meanings
outdistancing mind — this
is a poem, which lives beyond sight,
but drawn and spoken to being
from air and angels in community
with dark matter, a promise of light.
...
2.
Blue-print
on the destruction of West Coast Park
Suddenly, you realise those words
could not be printed on sea-water,
and what you thought were waves
beyond the palms and barbecue pits
are cunning hoardings, sea-blue running
the length of beach you used to know.
Seeing through it all you find
the shore gone, abnormally far out,
and trucks criss-crossing
where boats used to bask.
Engines erupt as giant cranes bow down,
bend to their tasks, filling up the bay.
The coast waits in tense disarray, witness
to invasion, man's power, a kind of rape.

Panicked, the birds have fled.
Heron, sandpiper, even land-birds leave
an eerie desolation; their sanctuaries,
violated, now are empty. As are the playgrounds
and the paths, deserted; not a soul
where children once chased games,
and kites pulled fliers ragged in the wind.
Nothing so forlorn as a forsaken park,
a place for people rendered inhospitable.

Warehouses and wharfs are on the cards.
The Port Authority raises its winning hand.
Nature rescinds prerogative, the sea withdraws.
Crab, clam, the boatmen and their shacks
defer to relocation, reassign their living,
subsist upon the pickings left behind. In time,
their isolation from each other will be sealed.

Still, the casuarinas hold their peace.
Life's corrugation deep upon their bodies
mouth their plea, like wounds; mute anticipate
the saw, bulldozer, ropes that truss
and haul away their history and their gift
of quiet shade, cool haven from the heat.
You wonder if the rain trees share their gloom,
gracious as ever, offering their spacious canopy
in every weather. No one to regard them now.
Ominous trash-bins mock their generosity, bring
to your startled gaze the recent poster
heedless of the blue-print for the scene:
"From now on Singaporeans will be going green."
...
3.
Carmelites at Auschwitz
in memoriam, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945
Forty years from the event and we begin
to gather our nerves, begin to feel the weight
of that beam we were numb beneath for too long.
Have we in a first, timorous lifting merely found
the capacity to immure these gentle surrogates
in this monument to man's obscenities?

I was not born when the Holocaust took place;
Auschwitz, Belsen, Dachau, Flossenburg
are foreign to me, names in history.
My links with them are in the human race.
And, understanding now what love may bring,
knowing that evil is not an individual thing,
I cry for what these sisters bear for us.

No, they are not there to redeem
that most contaminated piece of earth.
nor will their tears dilute the guilt
still seeping through the bloodstained stones.
The wholeness of their life is sharing death;
the silence, they know, speaks more than any prayer;
they must endure for us who dare not venture in
those cries from the forsaken and forsaking;
they are locked into those gas-rooms we abandon,
they relive each moment death uncountable.
They are the victims of our collective grief:
our collective sacrifice, for whom
a lifetime is too brief to concentrate
a fellow-suffering, or endeavour to send
further petitions to a God we cannot comprehend. in memoriam, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945
Forty years from the event and we begin
to gather our nerves, begin to feel the weight
of that beam we were numb beneath for too long.
Have we in a first, timorous lifting merely found
the capacity to immure these gentle surrogates
in this monument to man's obscenities?

I was not born when the Holocaust took place;
Auschwitz, Belsen, Dachau, Flossenburg
are foreign to me, names in history.
My links with them are in the human race.
And, understanding now what love may bring,
knowing that evil is not an individual thing,
I cry for what these sisters bear for us.

No, they are not there to redeem
that most contaminated piece of earth.
nor will their tears dilute the guilt
still seeping through the bloodstained stones.
The wholeness of their life is sharing death;
the silence, they know, speaks more than any prayer;
they must endure for us who dare not venture in
those cries from the forsaken and forsaking;
they are locked into those gas-rooms we abandon,
they relive each moment death uncountable.
They are the victims of our collective grief:
our collective sacrifice, for whom
a lifetime is too brief to concentrate
a fellow-suffering, or endeavour to send
further petitions to a God we cannot comprehend.
...
4.
Cloud Computing
for Stephen S G Lee
First, the found formation:
the novelty of the concept
of cloud computing
has been a subject of dispute
as some have pointed out, much
of the technology and infrastructure
had already been in place
long before the term itself
existed

in other words, the cloud
has been with us all a long
time ago, but it got clouded up
and reformed in the global
cloud architecture
and now emerges new
and strange

it is hard to find one's way
in this packed void of
the invisible cloud of clouds
though it is virtually possible
with the best cloud engineering
to apply a myriad disciplines to perfect
the community cloud for cloud clients
who can't choose between the private and
the public cloud, or the latest
hybrid cloud

this Intercloud provides a means
to navigate through
the mass of cloud platforms
where perhaps we'll find hidden
the cloud storage of old acquaintances:

nebulous cirrus / stratus / cumulus,
cirrostratus: fairweathering
stratocumulus: dallying promises
cumulonimbus: coming on heavy
yet all as ephemeral and ethereal
phantasms of the troposphere
as to defy any form of
cloud computing

and, surely it may be said
in this immemorial
network of networks,
we seem to be in
Nephelokokkygia:
cloud-cuckoo-land
all over again
for those of us with
our heads in the clouds of a
new and complex, perplexing
Cloud of Unknowing
...
5.
Graffiti in the Ladies
In the privacy
of this public lavatory
someone has purged
herself of her oppressors
and stereotypical docility:

from the Emperor of Japan
to Indira Gandhi,
and underlings between;
PMs, MPs, the lot —
all called judgement
in torturous outpouring:
sentenced for crimes,
nepotic dynasties, taxes,
arrogance, brutalities,
even sexual excesses,
as crudely enumerated
as mind-boggling.

Your hear a voice
too freedom-bound to shut up
in its executions.
The warped calligraphy
is like a dance of death;
she prefers to strip herself
for solitary audiences
whose response she may anticipate,
the place's ambience being
safe, accommodating frame.

You wonder if it's shock or shame
that you feel. Or maybe both.

It's easy to say
someone hysterical did this.

Does violence have a gender?
Has woman been clapped so much in her place
she has no room to face her demons
but the public lavatory?
Surely this vandalising speaks much more
than the writing on the wall?
...

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LOllll 12 July 2019
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