I was not always like this

I was once a man

with no special ambition

No special dreams or special needs

I lived a normal life, no special worries, no special joys

above all no special joys


She appeared to me clothed in a veil of luminosity

the first time

seven years ago

in a friend’s house in Amsterdam

(so much changed for me in Amsterdam)

one tired autumn night

holding a glass of water

and a string of prayer beads


Come away, come away

come away with me

There is a secret window I have to show you

down the hall, come with me

as she swayed into the darkness at the edge of the light from my bedroom

as she disappeared past the corners of my mind

gate, gate, paragate, parasa’mgate

bodhi bodhi svaha


I followed

a section opened in my heart by the scalpel of promised water

that she held loosely in her hand

dangled like a microphone wirelessly attached to the transmitters of heaven


earth calling



this is a drowned world

of angels and demons embedded in wax

preserved in stone

a paradox

not a lesson

nor a quizz

but a tv show

reality – you know

dreamed up by people younger than me

less travelled

shallow, empowered deputies of the soul

guardians with no experience

nor wisdom

perfect prefects of a purposeless school

welcome home my heart


we are returned

and must re-learn the pretence, relive the burn

re-pull the taking of the head

the grasping of the tail

of the hooded hissing scaled serpent

the sea of milk waits again after thousands of years for the repetition that brings salvation

the sea of poison and curd and milk and turd must churn

must churn



so I followed tumbling like an acrobat down the corridors of the broken house…

I followed her white robes

I glowed with borrowed phosphorescence

the burning drops of god’s own sweat tieing me to my open bleeding flesh torn open




flesh, muscle, fat, nerve, bone




why do you cut me open?

why do you crush my voice box?

why do you not let me sleep?

why do I pretend that I have to nail myself to a cross to be alive?


her thumb to my throat

she turned and confronted me

she said

declare yourself

or be forever silent

your talent is fading into your years

your treasure is tired of being buried

six feet under

burn for me

or die


I whispered

dried and dying my air wound up into the sea shells of her ears

it was a voice but mine? whose?

give me a sign

give me some signal

give me a reason




Your breath is your reason

your heart is your signal

your life is your season


Come with me

follow me

the fish are being caught for market

the fishermen are dieing to be shown the colours of your glorious rainbow clothes

You presume to need anything more??


Your tears have fallen with mine

into the same sea

the world drowned while you were being born

the fish were scaled alive while you watched

they were boiled alive while you were playing in the house next door


Come with me

Gate gate paragate

you say…

come away with me

steal the sacred fire

it is your birthright

the thief who uses me

the man who enters me

is the same who uses you

who enters you

are you only a man?

and a dead one at that?

are you not also whore, prostitute

virgin, god

burning mantra

tunnel of light?


didn’t you once ask for me to come to you and mount your cock?

didn’t you twice ask for me to enter you from the back?

didn’t you thrice demand the repayment of the unbelievable beauty you saw standing at the entrance to the

taj mahal?

at the base of the pyramids?

at the centre of st peters?

at the top of the champs elysees?

at the entrance to the forbidden city?


didnt you demand that as your right?

three times knocking

eyes full brimming with the tears

those tears

were not yours alone

do you not know that now?

those tears were not just yours

nor just mine

they belong to the first teacher who re cognised you

in the music  of the  closed secrecies

the music of temple, church, sanctuaries that escalate within you

and only now you can see that ….

only now you know that all your tears

all your erections

all your orgasms

all your pretensions

all your breaths

all your reflections

all your skin, all your cancers

all your beauty

all your beauty

all your beauty

isn’t only yours

it is also mine

it is also that of the woman down the street

the butcher with his meat

the sailor with the sail

the salesgirl with her curls

the beggar in phnom penh

the most beautiful and most plain of all men


thank you


bless you


down the corridor

across the globe

you are connected to me

alive or dieing

stop running

or denying


you ask me more than this?

you ask me for a reason?

you ask me for a reason?



Arts  Published June 4, 2007

Singapore Arts Festival

Multimedia journey marks a welcome return

IT would be hard to imagine a more auspicious return to the Singapore Arts Festival by musician Mark Chan than his multimedia performance over the weekend. Dreaming of Kuanyin, Meeting Madonna, which wrapped up its two-night run on Saturday, ended Chan’s four-year Artsfest hiatus. It was excellent despite his humble description of the project as rough round the edges.


Working well: The dance choreography was fairly literal in its symbolism

The minimalistic stage setup belied the rich layers of music, dance and video in store on opening night. Chan and erhu player Sunny Wong, seated at the front of the stage, formed a triangle with percussionist Javaveeran Bomeenathan Krishnan, mirrored by a triptych of projection screens above them.

The autobiographical project traces Chan’s encounter with an apparition a decade ago, and journeys to the present day. Despite the specificity of the project’s roots, the universality of its exploration of insomnia, peace and conflict, stood out in performance.

The most junior member of the creative team, video artist Brian Gothong Tan, held his own against Angela Liong’s choreography and Chan’s music. One particularly effective visual device was the transformation of human figures into figures of pure light, which made them seem like disembodied spirits, floating on the screens.

The dance choreography was fairly literal in its symbolism. Harmony and homogeneity were represented by the dancers swaying in tandem, whereas conflict and emerging individuality were played out in a brawl. This straightforwardness worked surprisingly well as a foil to Tan’s often surreal imagery.

A nice touch was the use of a single male dancer, Ming Poon, in counterpoint to four women dancers. Liong explained in the post-premiere dialogue session that Poon played multiple roles throughout the performance, ranging from Chan himself, to a messianic figure, to everyman.

But it was the music that really stood out. Chan’s four-octave range was on good display, constantly engaging in all its incarnations, from unearthly falsetto to witty dialogue. Wong’s erhu performance was beautiful, and sent chills running up my spine, especially during duets with Chan on Chinese flute, and with pre-recorded electric guitar played by Wil Kolen.

If this is the kind of quality that we can expect from Chan, then his new album should be well worth waiting for.




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