john tiong chunghoo

Gold Star - 4,927 Points (Jan 21,1960 / Sibu, Sarawak, Borneo East Malaysia)

By Candlelight - Poem by john tiong chunghoo

the real child comes out
in the dark
little creatures
run all over the wall
by the candle
the children scream, laugh
trying to outdo each other
the flickering light
that makes their dream
come true
dogs, cats and mouse
large and small
all over the wall
the children yelp, meow
jump in delight
our fine children
cast light on us
about their world
in that one blackout
animals we thought should
be in the fields
run all over the wall
with one lone candle
that illuminates
the children's roar of triumph

inspired by

By Candlelight
This is winter, this is night, small love -
A sort of black horsehair,
A rough, dumb country stuff
Steeled with the sheen
Of what green stars can make it to our gate.
I hold you on my arm.
It is very late.
The dull bells tongue the hour.
The mirror floats us at one candle power.
This is the fluid in which we meet each other,
This haloey radiance that seems to breathe
And lets our shadows wither
Only to blow
Them huge again, violent giants on the wall.
One match scratch makes you real.
At first the candle will not bloom at all -
It snuffs its bud
To almost nothing, to a dull blue dud.
I hold my breath until you creak to life,
Balled hedgehog,
Small and cross. The yellow knife
Grows tall. You clutch your bars.
My singing makes you roar.
I rock you like a boat
Across the Indian carpet, the cold floor,
While the brass man
Kneels, back bent, as best he can
Hefting his white pillar with the light
That keeps the sky at bay,
The sack of black! It is everywhere, tight, tight!
He is yours, the little brassy Atlas -
Poor heirloom, all you have,
At his heels a pile of five brass cannonballs,
No child, no wife.
Five balls! Five bright brass balls!
To juggle with, my love, when the sky falls.
Sylvia Plath


Comments about By Candlelight by john tiong chunghoo

  • (3/27/2008 5:36:00 PM)


    Pure enchantment. Your vivid imagery brings the joy of the children alive. I smile with them in the candlelight.

    As always,

    Sandra
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Poem Submitted: Saturday, June 11, 2005

Poem Edited: Sunday, June 12, 2005


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