Poem: What the papers white out

Projections, pronouncements, proclamations.

They herald the march forward, the fattening of the cow,

the building of ornate temples, and the bringing of capitalist Gods.

And yet they never tell you, my fellow kiasu,

about the end of your childhood, the place you once knew.

We are never told what the papers white out.


We are not told about the last makcik

who can roll a green skin between her thick thumbs

thick for the grip, but tender for the touch,

thick for the carry, but thin for the burst,

of gula,

hitting, spraying, washing your mouth,

in an explosion of epic, orgasmic, proportions.

The last makcik is going, along with her last muncher,

rolled off their sarongs by the mediocrity of acceptance

and the influx of strange foods

that follow newcomers, anywhere, everywhere in this world.

“Every ondeh is good,” Pierre says. “But every Macaroon is better.”

When money talks, the kuih walks.


We are never told what the papers white out.


We are not told about the last banyan tree,

with roots so long and strong,

Stretched by streams of bare feet devils,

aching for a swing across the longkang,

unafraid of monitor, unafraid of teacher,

petrified of father, petrified of cane.

They hide, then they swing, then they hide,

till one day the dance is disturbed

by the drill of destiny.

For what use is swinging when prices are rocketing?

When money talks, the banyan falls.


We are never told what the papers white out.


Because imagery and lyricism and poetry and song are,


distractions of the foolish, daydreams of the dilettantes,

luxuries we cannot afford, luxuries we will never afford.

They do not build white rectangles to live in, nor white clothing to worship,

nor white papers to justify the desperation,

the madness,

paraded as logic,

pragmatic, perfect, peerless,

manna from the heavens, delivered by lightning,

it strikes you in the heart,

it eviscerates your soul.


We are never told, my fellow kiasu,

what the papers white out;

we are never told.


My other poems:

Oh, you wretched soul

My little red bag

13 thoughts on “Poem: What the papers white out

  1. Lyrical, poetic and powerfully moving, Sudhir 🙂 I didn’t know you are a poet. Your writing reminds me of Arundhati Roy whom I am a great fan of.

  2. Beautiful. It really brought home the point what they are not telling me. I had not thought about it until your words hit me. Thank you for writing this.

  3. Many years ago I lived in Yishun. Those days the area was still quite forested. And when I left home early morning to work, driving out of my neighbourhood, I could see thick ghostly pall of mist hanging in the air. It was a wondrous site. Now that whole area is concrete.

  4. Nice. Great stuff Sudhir. Please do continue exercising your literary muscles. This island needs its own Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets or MutaBaruka.

  5. So happy to get this note from my wife, reproducing here for keepsake, because I know she won’t. “Yr latest blog post is my fav. V nice. Well done. Good to see a different style on yr blog.”

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