How Far We’ve Come: Milestones

In ’92 your journey began in a new land,

Settled Down Under for a better life with the fam,

Understandably daunting, all this is brand new,

Folks here look different from the ones that you knew,

Taller and different shades in terms of hair and complexion,

Speech patterns are different, as are the accents,

Language barrier ain’t helping, adding only to first day jitters,

Straight to first grade with limited communication, much to the other kids’ amusement,

ESL fixed you up in a hurry, by mid-year achieved fluency,

Aided by various cartoons that you were glued to on the daily,

All but promoted to citizen from foreigner, read a story to the class to mark the occasion,

Where The Wild Things Are to this day remains a story sentimental,

Began an interest in reading and writing, storytelling was where it’s at, 

Numerous awards earned from the teacher, made up for your weaknesses in science and in math,

Gradually loosened up, made some friends at school, enough to run into strife every once in a while, excessive chit-chat’s against the rules,

Visited a place called Wonderland for the first time, call it your local Disneyland,

No Mickey or Minnie in this pad, all ‘bout Fred Flintstone and his pals, but still lots of fun to be had,

They had a dinosaur exhibition on, triggering endless fascination,

Tastes in film, TV and books did it influence, while other boys geeked over cars, trucks, superheroes and even earth-moving equipment,

Cousin turned you onto gaming, you took to it like a duck to water,

Every weekend killed many hours on ‘em, sometimes bordering on obsession,

Might have been confusing times, plenty of changes dumped on such a young child,

But you look back on it with fondness for a reason, in many ways ‘92 was your life’s very foundation.

Fast forward to the next decade, year two of the new millennium,

Wonderland running on fumes, gonna be shut in a year or two,

Perfect analogy there for your present state of mind,

Late teens brought challenges of the draining kind,

The innocence of childhood gone, life took the kid gloves off,

The cheery kid had left the building, in his place a teen exasperated,

Angst and confusion strikes all teens, from physical appearance to thoughts on the future,

School-related pressures, changing dynamics with the parents, even those with the opposite gender,

It’s a tough place, that bridge between child and adulthood, can make and break an individual, some end up suicidal, wanna get off the carousel for good,

The magic that you took from gaming withering like a flame in the wind,

Music filled the void, mind’s thoughts expressed through punk and emo shit,

Round the clock bullying thrown in for good measure, let’s not forget friends’ betrayals,

Anger towards peers threatening to boil over, it’s a miracle you ain’t turned into a school shooter,

The world’s a cold and dark place, trust can easily be misplaced,

It’s sad, really, the thoughts of a young man in eleventh grade.

Skipping over now to the end of days according to the Mayan Calendar,

No clear threats to our existence, eight years later gonna feel something close to it,

By now made 27 trips around the sun, twenty years since grade one,

The happy kid begat a depressed teen that grew into a jaded adult pushing 30,

Last decade was a rollercoaster, so many ups and downs,

High school finished, university done and dusted, breakdowns in the personal life, definitely walked through your share of fires,

Disillusioned with the world and most folks in it, met one too many wolves in sheep’s clothing,

‘Fuck the world’ became a hidden mantra, stayed loyal to friends and fam while low-key seething in front of strangers,

Joined the ranks as an employee, making decent money, working out replaced the gaming, the body once-doughy ripped and strong like Bruce Lee’s,

Which brings us to the turning point, another life-changer was waiting ‘round the corner,

A martial art called wing chun, fit you like a tailored suit from day one,

No room for brute strength in this jawn, gotta stay relaxed but keep the form strong,

Previous understandings ‘bout hand-to-hand combat obliterated, life’s about new learning experiences,

Turned out to be the perfect tonic, the best thing that ever happened,

Found your tribe, finally, first true friends you had since elementary,

At first felt socially awkward like a wanderer traipsin’ ‘round the wilderness,

Shook off the rust rather quickly, soon you’re chopping shit up with ‘em regularly,

Reconnected, too, with an old high school buddy, got to know his pals and his lady, added ‘em to your circle of homies,

Went from being a hermit to Mr. Social in an instant, call it your own personal redemption,

Flirted with personal training, took the steps required for qualification,

Finished in a few months, studied the human body, psychology and such,

Soon further changes are happening, years’-old wounds finally healing,

Been a surly recluse since high school graduation, by year’s end the walls had collapsed around the fortress,

Still keeping the population at a distance, though, it’s baby steps through which we’re moving,

Still an achievement to have broke the shackles that you’d long been burdened with,

Ten years almost wasted but better late than never, though your ankles are calloused your heart’s been somewhat softened.

Up and up from there, one good year after another,

The puzzle pieces finally fell into place, felt as though you’d achieved a happily ever after,

Working arrangements took on a nomadic turn, we’re living in changing times,

Gig arrangements are in, jobs exported overseas, others taken over by A.I,

Five years later still at the Wing Chun Academy, worked your way up to Instructor eventually,

Once on the other side of warm-downs, now you’re the one leaving ‘em heaving and wheezing,

Took a cruise to New Zealand, just another of your many recent trips overseas,

Still hangin’ and chillin’ with your homies, all in all life seems pretty sweet,

Worked at three different firms, still making bank despite ever-changing scenarios,

All the while personal training on the side, the hustle’s hard but learned to embrace the chaos,

Half a decade after the turning point, felt like life would be rosy going forward,

But all good things must end, what comes up must go down, another big challenge seemed in order…

Which now brings us back into the present, it’s been quite a ride,

Many more mountains to climb, more chapters to write,

Five, ten, twenty and thirty years came and went so fast,

Before you know it you’re at the sunset, ready to rest at last,

What happens now ‘til then is entirely up to you,

It’s your journey and no one else’s, set your own timeframe and rules,

That dream run in the 2010s ended abruptly, in 2018 a new challenger stepped up to the fore,

Could have kept you on your knees had you not rallied like never before,

Seemed like the path smoothed out again but sadly not to be,

Reaching deeper into its bag of tricks, fate threw the world into a tizzy,

The new decade wasn’t some new Roaring Twenties, Covid played party pooper,

Now here we are, three years and counting and no closer to a solution,

Gotta soldier on anyway, if it’s worth fighting for gonna find a way,

Nothing to be gained from quitting, small steps eventually lead to big dividends,

You’re all grown up but went through different phases along the journey,

Be not ashamed of ‘em, personal evolution is an inevitability,

The happy kid and angsty teenager, sullen young man, desk jockey and would-be personal trainer,

The martial artist and aspiring writer, who knows what other hats you’ll wear in the future?

Got a long life still, ample time to set and knock down goals,

The ride ain’t over yet, Kiddo, grab that bull by the horns.

Another Year Ends…

That time of year again, marching towards the final hour,

Better grab that pen and paper, time to write a new chapter,

Will we finally stick to resolutions? That remains to be seen,

A world without covid as of now remains a pipe dream,

Held onto it this time last year, greeted 2021 beaming,

A few hiccups here and there but the dream looked close to happening,

Then came mid-winter, déjà vu huffed, puffed and blew,

One man’s error was all it took, society thrown back into the loop,

Back to lockdown for the masses, way to take several steps backwards,

The ghosts of 2020 came to roost, peep ‘em in the streets and check out the news,

Riots still hot this season, the far-right picking up from the far-left at the Capitol,

Left wing, right wing, the same bird is flappin’ ‘em, never underestimate the violence from the gullible and ignorant,

Folks still hating over differences in appearances and opinions, adults young and old behaving like spoiled children,

Beyond the residue of 2020, this year was a trip, there was good, there was bad and plenty of ugly for good measure,

Tokyo belatedly took the stage, finally staged the Olympic games,

Divisions and bickering put on hold, hands held all around the globe,

Chaos in Afghanistan, overtaken by the Taliban, citizens risked death on the runway, must be more appealing than tyranny anyway,

Tragedy on a film set, that gun wasn’t supposed to be hot, something fishy going on, raising more questions than not,

Justice for George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, finally, hope it was worth two years of chaos, looting, race-baiting and hypocrisy,

The sleep-deprived slithering into schools and acting the fool, how the fuck are y’all downplaying child-fiddling and abuse?

And on the subject of abuse, how ‘bout them pollies, rich folks and powerbrokers? Their sins and debauchery put front and centre, way to misuse their positions and power,

Media playing fire starter and provocateur, some things just won’t change,

But something ‘bout the general population ain’t right nowadays,

Don’t know how to describe it, like Animal Farm come to life,

Four legs good, two legs bad, better fall in line ‘lest you be ostracized,

Different sets of rules for the masses, all of ‘em dogmatic, better pick your position or they’ll drag you from the fence on which you’re sitting,

The most popular dictated by the rich and famous, attention-seekers thinking they got a license to influence,

Failure to bend or take a knee will cost you plenty, if not your life then certainly your credibility,

Get ready for the accusations; racist, narcissist, prejudiced, phobic, hate-mongering or a coward,

A free-thinking individual’s a dangerous animal, the fuckin’ sheep making connections between the pot and kettle,

There’s two sides or more to every argument or opinion, every lifestyle and belief system,

Ain’t nobody alive is all-seeing or all-knowing, open minds reap the rewards above the blinded,

School bully tactics still en vogue, a world where teamwork reigned would be dope,

As time goes by and life gets easier, seems like toughness and grit is put on the backburner,

Folks destroyed when challenged or met with resistance, is this a by-product of progress?

Still a jungle out there, every other weekend’s a protest,

That mid-year lockdown got ‘em hot and bothered, triggering beef between two factions,

Vaxxed VS Unvaxxed, the sheep against the quacks as they call one another,

Just a little note, swerving the poke don’t mean they think that all vaccines are a joke,

But mandates seem an overreaction, how dare they jeopardise our freedom,

It’s a free country in case you need reminding, let ‘em be responsible for their decisions,

To vax or not vax, both entail risks,

The damn Astra not the magical elixir as hyped, poisonous to the vulnerable type,

Pfizer ain’t much better, teenage hearts be swelling, not in a good way, either, myocarditis ain’t no laughing matter,

But playing rebel gonna leave you an open target, natural immunity may serve and protect, but mutinies are a possibility one mustn’t forget,

Fortunately it’s more hits than misses with the former, a return to normalcy’s around the corner,

Just in time for this new variant, now they’re pushing us to a third fucking helping.

Your boy right here began the year cautiously optimistic,

Isolated since 2020 thanks to a compromised immunity,

Three years since initial diagnosis but no crying over spilt milk,

Kinda sucks to be cut off, though, even for an introverted kid,

Sailed ‘round the Hawksbury, took nature walks beyond the city,

Keeping it local for now, got a big enough backyard anyhow,

Mass vaccination the plan to reach the Promised Land, but there’s reluctance even among the willing,

Long-term effects still unproven, as are what the solutions are harboring,

Found out soon enough, side-effects done reared their ugly heads,

For the most part pesky as hell, but for some the outcome was death,

Then they were talkin’ about forcin’ people to get it,

Freedoms and livelihoods evaporated should one dare to defy it,

Hence the aforementioned protests run by the bored and disgruntled,

Mass crowding prompting new waves brewing, get caught in the rip you could end up a statistic,

Chronic conditions diluting temptations to take unwise chances,

Grudging obedience obliterated plans for utter defiance,

Booked in for September, two doses spread over three weeks,

No nasty surprises after the first one, the second brought about soreness, headache and fatigue,

Gotta take it easy, still, for the sake of the vulnerable and non-compliant,

Personal desires put on hold, don’t want to be conscripted as a carrier.

That aside travelled down south to watch youngest cousin get hitched,

Ten-hour drive to and from, beautiful ceremony definitely worth the trip,

Good music, regular breaks and laughs ensured the journey was smooth,

Family catch-ups sure to brighten the gloomiest of moods,

‘Fessed up to Mom and Pops all my life’s ambitions, what’s worth fightin’ for and sacrificing,

Though nothing’s set in stone, only fools shut off opportunities for growth,

We weren’t meant to run in place, change can hurt but gotta embrace it,

Like a great man preached, the real ones flow effortlessly like water,

But it’s my life, which way it goes is solely my responsibility,

No need to trip, I’ll get there eventually, don’t matter the pace, I’m in no hurry,

Gonna hit that milestone in early 2022, it’s been four years in the making,

Ambition been simmering since the nineteenth trip ‘round the sun, better be worth the false starts since day one,

Gonna get there or die trying, ‘til the wheels fall off, ‘til I’m six feet under or cremated,

No longer a kid but not ready for retirement, gonna be more pages to be written.

A note to you readers, been through the wringer over the past two years,

Strength and will seared, looking ahead through the lens of cynicism and fear,

So much for the new ‘Roaring twenties’, expectations derailed in a hurry,

Plans scrapped and livelihoods threatened, families and friends separated,

Loved ones taken too soon and young ones needlessly orphaned,

Dark forces at work wreaking havoc, patience and resistance slowly falter,

Hard times corrode the masks that concealed peoples’ true colours,

Exposing the altruistic and pathetic, the creative and the rudderless,

The hate-filled hurting, plundering and killing their own brothers and sisters,

Blaming Ill-feelings and misguided beliefs as reasons for egregious actions? Schoolkids under ten conjure far better excuses,

We are one and the same, every colour, culture, lifestyle and creed,

Here’s a God damn fact, everyone’s life fucking matters, about damn time we moved forward and act like it,

Dare to resist popular opinion could see you cancelled, have we returned to the days of Hitler or Stalin?

The sleep-deprived endorsing free speech is nothing short of hypocritical,

Respect is earned and not demanded, won’t get none if you won’t give none,

Feelings hurt over counter-arguments surely won’t win you many admirers,

They laugh at your pettiness and immaturity, at the spectacle you make of yourself,

Seeking reasons to be triggered, talk about a wretched existence,

Gotta believe that good still outweighs the bad, though, otherwise life won’t be worth living,

It’s no easy feat, but better than dwelling in the land of the weak and defeated.

Though it’s easier said than done, though such advice may sound hollow depending on the source,

Keep that chin up and carry on, something to remember when you’ve lost all hope,

Took shells from all directions but damn it you’re still standing,

Luck ain’t had nothing to do with it, don’t underestimate the strength you’re imbued with,

The days are ticking by, can’t get it back once it’s gone,

Use ‘em as you please, but here’s a little something to reflect on,

Wasting time is simple, do nothing and remain stagnant, before you know it one too many has passed and you’re old, unfulfilled and kicking your own ass,

You deserve much better, but you still gotta earn it, ain’t nobody gonna hand it to you willingly on a silver platter,

Think of what drives you and gets that blood pumping every morning,

If it scares you some then that’s even better, don’t give in to that inner voice scaring you into inaction,

Fight like hell for what you want, never surrender and give it all you’ve got,

Fuck the haters and doubters, why be held hostage by the opinions of others?

Take it one step at a time and go at your own pace, let the dream guide your way,

Might take some soul searching to find your place but you’ve gotta keep at it,

We’re all pieces in the puzzle scattered, some just happen to be lying unseen in the corner,

Sooner or later you’ll be found, march on no matter the odds,

2021 is history, 2022 inching closer and closer,

The past is gone and no telling what the future holds, nonetheless gonna march on forward.

Problem with complimenting

Here we go, two strangers at the bus stop,

Ten minutes ‘til that 750, might as well chop it up,

One of the two sporting a beautiful gold chain,

Pendulous around her neck, contrastin’ her dark top and flowing mane,

The other be admirin’, ‘your necklace is nice,’ says she,

‘Thank you,’ smiles the gold-bearer, blushing ever slightly,

Then she goes another direction, ‘it’s nothing special, really,’

‘But it looks nice on you,’ the retort was delivered nicely yet forcefully,

Back and forth they go, almost like a tug-of-war,

Like a two-sided brawl, trading shots like Gatti and Ward,

Finally she gets it, the one with the gold,

Here comes the 750, they take different seats once they’re aboard.

This is just a glimpse of what goes on lately,

Seems there’s nefarious activity among people and society,

Ain’t talkin’ ‘bout covid, that’s already been established,

Speak to another glowingly and you’ll notice something is amiss,

Ever heaped praise upon someone for some good deed that they’d done?

For any goals accomplished, even for dressing stylish?

For something nice they owned that you low-key wished was yours,

Even for being a light in a cold and cruel world?

They’ll happily catch the bouquet at first, perhaps even blush a little,

Then watch how quickly they drop it, like they’re shamed and embarrassed by it,

You can hand it back to ‘em, reassure ‘em it ain’t fake,

Some may take it back while others won’t, before y’all know it it’s a stalemate.

Makes you wonder when this trend started,

Negatives readily accepted, positives dumped as though poisonous,

Initial thoughts suggestin’ that what glitters ain’t genuine,

Hidden agendas and snakes in disguise conspire to trigger suspicious minds,

Could also be a state of mind and a means of avoiding pain,

Multiplied many times over when spawned by losses following such massive gains,

Like there’s trepidation in enjoying the good ‘lest it be snatched unexpectedly,

Why subject one’s self to that sort of torture willingly?

But there’s a hard truth that needs to be said, get it into your head,

Everything is temporary, the good, bad and very ugly,

Time is limited, who and what you have, none of it will last,

Enjoy the good things in life, don’t be embarrassed to do so,

They that shame you are likely victimised by pettiness rooted in fragile egos,

As long as it’s real, no harm in accepting compliments,

Life’s too short to live in fear of losses, the end will come for all of us,

Be proud of your achievements in a way that ain’t bragging,

Nothing wrong with rewarding one’s self, could be good for personal motivation,

Go and get what you want, be kind to others, take chances ‘til the wheels fall off,

Savour the good and get through the bad ‘til the sand runs out that hourglass.

Still Yours

Parenting, it’s a role fraught with challenges,

Endeavouring to raise the kids proper, being provider, teacher and entertainer while swerving judgment from others,

Might seem overwhelming in the beginning, rookies’ heads be spinning,

But as the lil’ ones grow and blossom you’ll realize such a role was rewarding,

Ain’t no official guide, no so-called right way, everyone got their own ways,

Different paths taken to the same endgame where their respective offspring turn out ok,

Having expectations ain’t new, surely every parent’s got ‘em,

How they take it when the young’uns grow up different, here’s where the plot thickens.

You’re familiar with the pattern, seen it all before,

Kid’s born, mom and dad dictating which way they should go,

For the most part ain’t nothing set in stone, just mere high hopes,

As long as the kid grows up honourable and can get by on their own,

Could start as expectations for their academic performance,

Then beyond the school gates, into the path of life, maybe even who they’ll call husband or wife,

Nurture that which lights their fire, encourage ‘em to mingle, don’t keep ‘em sheltered,

No harm exploring the mysterious beyond, as long as they exercise caution,

Expose ‘em to new things and experiences, they’ll surely thank you for it,

Teach ‘em right from wrong but also let ‘em grow up well-rounded,

Sooner or later they’ll find their purpose and life’s work,

Might take away from what you’d planned out for ‘em, on some level your concern is warranted,

Hate to break it to some of y’all, but while you’re free to guide ‘em in their youth,

You may face resistance from ‘em once they cross over to young adulthood,

Ain’t right to rob ‘em of their passion, rip the carpet from under ‘em,

Can’t meddle, either, in matters of their ride or die and co-pilot,

Life will dish out challenges, might find your kids among the sources,

But breaking rules and pushing envelopes aren’t always acts of insolence,

Rather than dismiss ‘em why not try to understand ‘em?

As long as they’re adding to the betterment of the planet surely they’re entitled to it.

The long and short of it is this, pay attention and drink it in,

The actions of others are beyond your control, as are the little ones’ dreams,

Dare to throw a spanner in the works watch how quickly they’ll hate and despise,

Beware the individual suppressed, it’s a different type of anger and spite,

Accept that outside forces will mould ‘em, too, you can’t protect them forever,

They’ll tread their own path, beyond your set perimeters, it doesn’t mean they’re disrespecting,

If they ain’t providing fodder for the evening news, wretched and acting the fool,

Let their true selves thrive in full bloom, pursue what they were born to do,

Have faith in ‘em to do right, to leave the roost and fly high,

Let ‘em take the hits necessary to achieve their own victories, no need to keep that chopper hovering constantly,

If you’d done your job proper then you should trust that they got this in the bag,

That they’ll take on the world and triumph, proudly represent Mom and Dad,

Blood is thicker than water, ain’t nothing changing if you played your cards right,

They’ll still count on you if ever they stumble or need good old-fashioned advice,

They’re still yours, now and forever, always,

Let ‘em find their way, wherever it is, have their back anyway.

You Played Yourself 9: Celebrity Interview

This is it, another turkey ready for bastin’ and roastin’,

Dream jobs in the scrapheap thanks to L’s of the self-inflicted variety,

Losing your gig ‘cuz of leaked dick picks nothing short of idiotic,

But let’s take a look at one poor fool who only had one job to do,

Sent up north for an interview, an exclusive, too, for good measure,

The envy of your peers and rivals, scored a win for your beloved Network,

She’s the hottest star in world of pop music, but don’t call her a comeback queen,

Been around for years, recharged her batteries before returning to the scene,

So off you went, hopped on the plane, travelled to an opposing timezone,

Touched down ready to rumble, got yourself comfortable,

Then the interview started, here’s your moment, go out there and get it,

But just like that it was mission failure, a glaring omission brought about your undoing,

Admitted to her you didn’t listen to her album, of course she was gonna be offended,

How you gonna rock up to a professional setting woefully under-prepped for it?

Just like that she’s storming out the room, ain’t nothing you can do about it,

Your golden moment crashed and burned like the Hindenburg, no excuses can soften it,

Gob off all you want ‘bout missed e-mails, ain’t nobody buying that shit,

You done played around IG during that special assignment, surely the real pros would’ve checked their e-mails for anything last-minute,

At the very least you’d gather background info of your subject, immerse yourself in their latest projects,

You’ve been on the job long enough, your lame excuses don’t carry much water,

It’s a long trip back down under, prepare to face the music,

Enjoy that two-week suspension, your dumb ass surely has earned it,

Take the L on the chin, Bro, it’s the least you can do to salvage that rep,

But while you’re at it hang your head down in shame, Dude you played yourself!

Wasting Your Time

There you go again, struttin’, braggin’, hypin’ yourself again,

Crisping in your ego jacuzzi, self-love taken to extremes,

Flexin’ ‘bout your life’s achievements like they’re the stuff of myths and legends,

Convince yourself every morning that you’re the alpha, still, among fellow humans,

Keeping an eye out, too, on the others like an enemy sniper,

Your level of hustle dictated, seemingly, by peers’ everyday movements,

Donning on that costume when in a face-to-face environment,

Chest proud, shoulders back, eyes up, simple tells you’d rehearsed over and over,

Selling yourself as a chess master, always several steps ahead,

They ought to tremble at the inventory of worlds that you’d conquered,

Joke’s on you, though, as you’ll realise sooner or later,

Get your head from out the clouds and peep at the outliers,

The ones lurking in the shadows away from the population,

Folks like you call ‘em scared and tentative, silenced by intimidation,

You’re dead wrong for believing they’re scared to compete with others,

Not all waste time searching for new people to one-up and get one over,

Some prefer to compete only with the individual within the mirror,

To overcome obstacles no bigger than whom they were just days and weeks before,

No need to feel threatened by the achievements of others, such a mindset is reserved for fools and suckers,

You liken yourself to a warrior, one to be feared, envied and admired,

Hate to say it but they see through the bullshit, you’re just a weenie drowning in insecurities,

Enslaved yourself to your peers, most of whom are just minding their own business,

Letting ‘em live inside your head, rent-free, talk about a wretched existence,

Think about that the next time you prance and preen,

Relying on others to measure yourself against, the rewards are limited indeed.

The Right Direction

Traipsin’ through the park in random directions,

The mind’s doing likewise, thoughts touchin’ upon different subjects,

It’s a nice summer afternoon, the holiday season imminent,

Yours truly ain’t even started buying those Christmas presents yet,

The mind’s speeding train suddenly derailed by the presence of a stranger,

Wearing a loaded backpack, clutching the image of one of the city’s landmarks,

Slightly annoyed at being snapped out of my trance, but this fella needed assistance, might as well give this dude a chance,

Language barrier cancelled a verbal exchange, showed me the picture in his hand in order to communicate,

Clear as day that he was looking to get to this place,

Poor guy had lost his bearings, turned to the kindness of strangers to help him somehow,

So lost was I in my thoughts I hadn’t quite returned to the here and now,

Lived in this city for most of my life, certainly familiar with its icons and sights,

Yet I’m lost at sea with this traveler, home had suddenly become unfamiliar,

Pointed to some random direction, where I believed he should go,

Laid out that path for him, it wasn’t quite the yellow brick road,

Nevertheless he was satisfied, thanked me in his native tongue,

Then off he went, happily, into the afternoon sun,

‘Hope he makes it there,’ thought I, resuming my walk,

Headed towards the exits, out to the street, almost time to head home.

Making the call

New job started, pay was good and hardly complicated,

How long it’ll last up to chance, working life’s taken a turn for the nomadic,

Woke up anxiously then put on my best suit,

Headed out the door, braved the road, caught the train, fuelled by oatmeal, eggs and fruit,

From the station traipsed towards the building, a giant among skyscrapers,

Collected my lanyard from the receptionist, headed off for the elevator,

That’s when she appeared, dressed nice and smart,

Glanced at her, eyes didn’t linger, we exchanged not a single word,

The lift doors opened, like a gentleman let her in first,

She complied with a smile, could’ve sent pulses racing for miles,

Then in rushed behind me a sudden train of humanity,

The rat race had started early, victims running on that wheel already,

We ended up side by side, crammed towards the back wall,

Shoved my way through when the doors opened at my floor,

Stole her gaze once more upon departing, before the elevator closed,

Emboldened by positive first impressions, hoping we’ll meet for a proper ‘hello.’

Crossed paths with her two days later, ‘twas the end of the grind,

From different departments keeping similar hours, happily found some common ground,

‘Hi’, said I, ‘nice to see you again,’

She seemed to remember me, thankfully, ‘fancy running into you here,’ said she,

Yours truly on the way to catch trains, her to the bus terminal,

Three-to-five minute walk from the building, no time for lengthy conversation,

Introduced ourselves to one another, formally, made small talk before parting,

‘Nice to meet you, have a good evening, see you tomorrow’, that sort of thing.

Rode home feeling chuffed, glad to have made a friend, maybe,

Contact finally achieved, still counts as a minor victory.

Ran into her again the next morning, waiting outside the building,

Fifteen minutes early, expanded last night’s small-talking,

‘Twas just a coincidence, I promise, ain’t nobody stalking,

Perhaps it’s a sign of two kindred spirits?

Starting time arrived rather quickly, covered plenty of ground already,

Promised to meet for lunch break, off we went to our respective workplaces,

Turned up bang on time outside that noon, she was already waiting,

For a good five minutes it turns out, but really who’s counting?

Got half an hour to kill, went to the mall across the street,

Off to the food court, got some grub, sat down to swap life stories,

Conversation flowed like a smooth stream, but so did the minutes on the clock,

Walked back towards the building, side by side, just in the nick of time.

Met her again at five-past-five, again walked her to the station,

Day by day met her between working hours, a pair of desk jockeys sharing a daily ritual,

Started at mere friendship, ain’t nobody catching feelings,

Then one day the heart started trolling, ceased to be platonic,

For one party anyway, that would be yours truly,

Her interactions with others exposing chinks in the proverbial armoury,

The working day consumed by thoughts of her, running on high rotation,

All but melting like Olaf before her, internally, that smile a bright light on a barren wasteland, truly,

‘We’re just friends’ that’s all there is to it, don’t even have each other’s numbers,

That would be a start, just gotta ask her permission,

Simple as that, seems straightforward, so why do we turn simple things into complicated puzzles?

Ran through the gamut of feelings, whether pleasure or torture,

Thankfully she’s none the wiser, my straight-face game as impenetrable as ever,

Counting my blessings, daily, that an angel entered my life, willingly,

Perhaps someday in the long run I’ll strike it lucky,

She ain’t mentioned a co-pilot in her life, she ain’t someone else’s wife,

Gotta keep the big guns holstered, resist the temptation, play it cool and collected,

Gonna ask to exchange numbers first, seems like a harmless gesture,

It’s what friends do, should make plans to hang outside of work,

Set the date to ask her the next day, nerves won at the last minute,

Then aimed for the one after, but turned out she was absent,

The weekend followed, can’t believe my mind’s consumed with planning for this,

It ain’t rocket science or a rescue mission, boy do I feel desperate and pathetic,

How to ask her a simple question without coming off creepy?

The mind continues overthinking, the cause of many an individual’s great follies,

“Just be straight with her, stop fretting about it, the more you think about it, the more you’re liable to make a mess of it,”

Easier said than done, love does things to people,

Even the strong rendered helpless against its influence.

Come Monday morning, ‘it’s now or never,’ whispered that inner voice,

At lunch time the moment of truth arrived, time for the bomb to be deployed,

“Eyes up, chest out, exude an air of confidence,”

“Get it over with, Brother, you’d wracked your brains too long for this,”

Sat opposite her as she munched away, hoping her eyes won’t catch my nervous gaze,

Finally mustered the strength and audacity required to get the mission underway,

Asked her for her number, to keep in touch during off-hours,

And maybe hang out too as pals, ripped the bandaid off without second thoughts,

Braced for impact, as though trapped in a falling jet, fire streaming from the engine before hitting earth in a massive explosion,

Heart beating fast, can feel the sweat coming, how will she react?

Thankfully she agreed, removed a pen and notepad from her bag,

Scribbled on it that paper the precious digits, handed it to me shortly after,

Just like that put me at ease while euphoria took over,

The hard part’s over now, continued eating while conversing,

All the while keeping the contents within from bursting, could barely keep the lid on it.

Kept that precious piece of paper close like a rare and sacred text,

Got me acting like Gollum, can’t believe it feels like life itself depends on it,

Shot her a text a few days afterward,

Nothing too serious, just a simple greeting to get the ball rolling,

Objective completed, now we play the waiting game,

That ELO song come to life, the one about telephone lines,

Hopefully it won’t end in vain.

Makes Me Wonder: Fictional Story

Hey, man, how’s it going?

I see y’all are getting serious, hope it’s been smooth sailing,

I ain’t here to play dating coach and tell y’all what’s what,

Given how me and her ended I’m underqualified for that,

I’m sure she’s spilled the beans to you, the timeline of our union,

Puppy love turned into coupling before exchanging vows at the altar,

Three kids and a decade later things took an unplanned turn,

Veered off course then crashed and burned, left no survivors,

Went our separate ways, won’t ask how she recounted the tale,

But if she’s keeping it 100 she’d tell you both parties are to blame,

Now I hear y’all are ready for the next level, it’s all good and you’ve got my blessing,

Not to get all preachy or invasive but these are pearls that I’m dispensing,

Treat her right, stay by her side, such advice goes without saying,

You may not believe it but I wish you both a happy ending,

It’s on you both to make it work, takes two to tango, it’s all about cooperation and teamwork,

She chose you, you must be someone special, she always was a good judge of character,

My teeth still bared towards her but subconsciously still got love for her,

Though we ended acrimoniously we’re forever linked through those kids,

So if you do her dirty you’d better be ready to explain your part in it,

Messing with my kids’ mother still gets hackles raisin’,

Hope it won’t come to that, for now I’ll trust you’re a real one,

Now let’s get to matters related to the children,

Raise ‘em right, just as she and I had planned during good times,

Make sure they respect you, but a little something for you to keep in mind,

You better remember, always, that their real daddy is me,

Let’s not forget that she and I share joint custody,

Doesn’t matter if she badmouths me, spite tends to bury facts,

I take care of ‘em as well as any parent, ask ‘em and they’ll tell you all about it,

Long story short, I’m daddy and you’re the step-parent,

If the shoe was on the other foot that’s also how you’d see it,

Be good to one another, take on the world side by side,

But make no mistake, I’m still around, I ain’t going nowhere, don’t let me down.

A New Type Of Cool

It was ’91, yours truly all of six years old,

Kid from the Philippines, fresh off the plane, in a foreign land to call home,

Set off for a whole ‘nother land, there’s no coming back,

The tickets they were one-way, here’s where the rest of life began,

Familiar surroundings in the rear-view, low-key felt bewildered,

Mom and Pops promised a better life, a risk taken sure looked a winner,

Flew to a place called Australia, sure sounded like ‘America’,

Same language spoken, accents couldn’t be less similar,

Newbies to the country shacked up with Auntie and Unc,

‘Til we found our feet and pops could get a job,

People here looked different, lighter complexions and hair colour,

Faintly resembled folks on television, towering over former compatriots,

They drive on the left here like in a mirror, steering on the right seat,

What language are they speaking? To a young FOF’s ears sounded like gibberish,

Then there were the homes, made from various materials previously unfamiliar,

Bricks and wood, solid foundations, more than one vehicle in every garage for good measure,

Green grassy lawns front and back, how do they maintain them?

Found out soon enough, from out the shed emerged a weird contraption,

Watched uncle fuel that little bugger, yanking that starter cord,

Wasn’t long until the purr became a roar,

Eyes fixed on him as he steered that beast, a trail of light green in his wake,

Guiding it through the yard ‘til the tall and unruly grass was tamed,

‘Lawn mower’ they call it, can’t say I’d seen anything like it,

Fan-boying on transport and machinery then, this just added to it,

Back in the motherland lived in an apartment block close to the big smoke,

Take deep breaths at your own risk, your eyes will water as your lungs choke,

A squatters’ village below, no lawn or nature strip, just dust and concrete,

Closest thing to nature flower pots and vases, mowers are useless here,

Would soon watch Pops take on that contraption, the fascination grows stronger,

The smell of cut grass attack the senses, surprisingly refreshing,

Even to this day conjures up memories nothing short of nostalgic,

Spring and summer afternoons, smoothing the grass in your own slice of nature,

Ubiquitous part of suburban living, could call it de rigueur,

Years came and went, the role of grass cutter slowly changing hands,

Where once Pops took care of business junior soon got in on the act,

During teen years was a form of torture, chores outdoors a form of kryptonite,

Slowly but surely embraced the benefits for both body and mind,

Worked the arms, legs and back real good, being among the greenery lifting the mood,

Also the feeling of accomplishment after the yard’s makeover completed,

Rainy weather seems to follow a week or two afterwards,

Green grass getting a taste of it, boosting ‘em damn near skyward,

And so the cycle repeats itself, time to drag that mower from out its slumber,

Once a child admiring Unc and Pops pushing it, now I’m the one guiding it.