So here –
here in the staunching daylight of the KL forenoon,
too much even for mad dogs and white ghosts
when the sun’s full on; here in the standstill
strike of it, you thrive yourself outwards,
merge with unmentionable sun.
Squirrels squirrel forth,
churning it up, this undivided knowing –
tree and branch and the holding ground;
Just so here.
When my Dad blew our electrics
with a ham-fisting screwdriver,
my brother rigged lamps from each room’s sockets
and we bathed using candles to cauterise
the notion of romance. December days
had darkened well before four p.m.
The unseen spectre of teenage schoolmates
on the doorstep, whoo-ing me with ghosthood
till I guessed who they were. I was more scared
of the shame at school than I was of ghouls
till I storied them to promises:
it was temporary, we were getting it fixed.
Ten years later, my Dad lived there alone
and the light had not dawned, till he got it fixed
for his new partner to move in. I missed
the near-total darkness; more than that,
the three-inch flames that would shoot their colours
from the sockets when we pulled a plug out.
Above all I missed my schoolmates,
who would have been impressed by those flames
and who now lived in my own dark space, like ghosts.
Liverpudlian Lawrence Pettener works full-time in Malaysia as self-employed copy-editor, proofreader
and writer. His speciality is helping solo authors, including mentoring poets. He teaches poetry-writing workshops and
offers innovative Poet in Resonance schemes free of charge to a range of individuals and institutions.
As Kwailo Lumpur, he writes comic material about Malaysian life, food especially. Following the success of an earlier audio recording and May All Beings Rock, he has four long-awaited poetry collections due out in 2021. His work can be found at Lawrence Pettener, Writer and Kwailo Lumpur.