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I hate the nights

I hate the nights, especially. I hate feeling empty inside, wasted, and thrown apart. I feel so damn empty drained, empty, used out, that probably discarded along the streets of life, where other people see fragility and they trample upon it. You know how little kids kick empty Coca-Cola cans (as if they were soccer balls) that they see. I’m drank by another, thrown away after I’ve been used, kicked by many others. And that is life, soon to be a theatre of smiles, joys, and laughter. Yeah, maybe life is fun for the soccer players and the spectators, but it isn’t for the soccer ball. Why? Because its a non living thing? Maybe I’m not seen as a living creature to others as well. I don’t know.

I hate the nights, they mirror the blackness of my soul, yet show me stars. The night overwhelms me with loneliness, yet accompanies me with comforting serenity and peace. Maybe that’s because some things just don’t make sense. They show one thing, and tell another – like someone on the verge of suicide tells his friend to be strong. I guess that’s a good to the bad side of life – and it is a positive example of hypocrites. Hypocrites lie and they are multi-faceted, but they pretend to strengthen someone. What’s wrong with being hypocrites? They aren’t always the self serving idiots you see. In fact, hypocrites are just people trying to be better, but haven’t quite succeeded yet.

I hate the night, they show me the contradictions in my life. And they show me why, maybe, contradictions are the beauty of life, after all.

Author’s Note: ranting…..

Image Courtesy:

A Review of My Blog- taken from the Boy who Photographed Lawns


“An Ordinary Writer with Ordinary Writings for Extraordinary Interpretations” — this is how Timothy Tan, the owner of poetry blog Secondhand Thoughts for First Thinkers, defines himself. I feel truly honoured to know Timothy as a friend and fellow writer: I’ve read his early short stories (which lack finesse, but definitely not freshness of imagination) and witnessed his growth as a writer to who he is today: a poet who can, in my opinion, write a poem about anything.I don’t mean this in a bad way — Timothy is able to pluck inspiration from the unlikeliest of day-to-day scenery and occurrences, turning the quotidian into insightful, at times even breathtaking verse.

Timothy often writes concisely — more so for his recentworks I would say, but in general his poetry has always had a reasonable degree of brevity which is often lacking in the verse of many other budding poets. Quite a few of his works are structured around presenting new perspectives of different aspects of life and humanity: I might describe these as ‘polaroids’, sans the slight melancholy nostalgia polaroid pictures are often associated with. Instead, Timothy’s economy of words carefully frames his ideas into neat packets of (might I say, seemingly wise) introspection, often likening these thoughts to relatable, everyday images. Take Pizza for example:

sprinkling cheese
over my pizza,

like the rain
sprinkles all of itself over

and my life,
sprinkles all over the place,
and falls apart

in a mess.

yet rain sprinkles
produce splatters –
they are melodic to ears

and, messy pizzas,
are nice to eat.
The pattering of rain is likened to the sprinkling of cheese which is in turn made meaningful by the thematic parallels drawn to life and its occasional state of disorder. It is a clear demonstration of Timothy’s poetic ability to coherently link seemingly disparate images by identifying common patterns in the way different things function — proof of a keen sense of observation. While Pizza appears to casually share a passing insight, some of Tim’s poems feel more forceful in their message, even bordering on the didactic.

I wonder why do we have
flexible curved rulers now –

maybe they wanted to tell us,
that straight lines bend,
and rules twisted.
Clever wordplay is employed in Curved Ruler, and this is further reinforced by connotation — rulers are usually rigid, running in fixed directions (like rules), so Timothy forces us to consider the implications of a ‘curved ruler’ in this context. Even the rules of grammar are broken (or rather, bent) in the last line of the poem, which is clearly not in-sync with the tense of the previous lines. It is a deliberate attempt to end ambiguously: should the last line be understood as “rules ought to be twisted”, or as “rules are twisted”? One might compare the didactic (and simultaneously compact) nature of some of his poems to that of Lang Leav’s meme-sized, gift card-styled declarations, such as —

Love is a game
of tic-tac-toe,
constantly waiting
for the next x or o.

(Lang Leav)
Timothy constantly strives to evolve as a writer and poet, and this is seen through his frequent experimentation with different styles of poetry, both in terms of thematic structure and poetic form. His works run the gamut from longer, monologue (such as Kueh Lapis) or even duologue-styled pieces (eg. Locked), to haiku (Rain), six-word strings (Clouds), and concrete poetry (Float).


to be

Float was inspired by the picture of a floating maple leaf, and Timothy uses this as leverage to construct a meaningful, fascinating structure for his poem. The stark verticality and use of a lengthened caesura (with visual feedback in the form of dots) create a sure sense of passage and movement — almost mimicking the gentle rise of a sunken object from bed to water surface. It breathes of an unusual sense of epiphany which adds meaning to this already bemusing poem. Dead, yet floating to be alive — even an inanimate object is portrayed in its struggle toward some greater purpose. Perhaps the series of poems that show off most uniquely Tim’s penchant for soul-searching and detailed introspection when he writes his poems are the poems that fall under ‘Tim’s Dictionary’. In this novel poetic structure, the poet attempts to define a word in his own poetic context, creating some of his most inspirational, thought-provoking pieces:


– a crowded place to spend

E.g. After a stressful day at school, I took a stroll in the city.
The thematic concept of definition is somewhat reminiscent of another adept poet I came across online, Sarah Gawricki. Gawricki’s poems are different, however — perhaps even the inverse. While Tim’s definitions are origin-centric (ie. derived from its thematic source, the word in question) and often feature a sense of detachment from the source (in order to transcend the source and gain a truer picture), Gawricki’s visceral compositions bleed of raw, often bitter emotion, culminating in contextual definition at the end of the poem — representative of the persona making sense of the chaos, attempting to find closure.

panting like an
exiled Saudi
falling in love with every mirage that promises
swift recompense

— waiting for a boy

(Sarah Gawricki)
Of course, no poet is perfect, and I too have my issues with Tim’s poetry. There are cases when his poems don’t achieve that aha-moment, and I am left wondering if there is another dimension to it that I missed out. I also tend to notice a trend of using line breaks frivolously, something which I feel tends to destroy the intended overall effect of the poem. Take Earth for example:

How do you expect someone
to feel you,


No one feels
something so BIG –

when it is

The unnecessary line breaks truncate the entire rhythm of the poem, such that the feeling when reading it is akin to that of an aged motor that stalls and sputters into life repeatedly. It seems as if the poet wanted to use caesura merely to indicate a turn of argument, but this causes the pivot to feel deliberately forced and contrived. I would urge Timothy to try reading his poems aloud and see which form articulates the poem smoothly; we often conceptualise poems in raw chunks of ideas, and these translate into truncated or disjointed poetic forms if poets fail to link the puzzle pieces thematically and phonetically. In spite of his occasional boo-boos, I believe Timothy has the rare spark of inquisitiveness and hunger for self-reflection that will not fail him should he desire to become a published poet one day. I end off with one of his poems that perhaps accentuates his own fighting spirit:

The thing that kills
isn’t that the arrow
but, the heart that refused to beat

Review taken from:

My First Interview with The Boy Who Photographed Lawns


A few days ago I did a review of my fellow poet and friend Timothy Tan’s poetry blog Secondhand Thoughts for the First Thinkers. Today, I am extremely privileged to bring to you this exclusive interview with Tan which reveals his take on poetry and what it means to be a budding poet.

Hi Tim! Congratulations on the success of your blog, and I want to say I really enjoyed reviewing it. So I’m sure we’re all wondering, how do you get inspiration for your poems?

I guess I get the inspiration from my daily life — in fact, just anything. I don’t “get” inspiration, but inspiration “gets” me, I guess? It’s all in the magic of the moment, maybe today a dead skin cell catches my attention, and maybe it won’t the next day. It can be absolutely random things as well, like how someone holds their pen, or the wording of a mathematical problem. I guess everything is but normal; when the time comes, things stand out as inspiration. And when the moment ends, they blend back into normality.

Does being in junior college at this point in time afford inspiration or background for any of your poetic endeavours?

Of course it does. Especially for me, I guess JC is a really challenging period of time, and it is precisely these challenges that give rise to doubts and new philosophies, and I craft these into poems. Writing poetry helps me learn more about myself and explore the answers to those questions. Even if some doubts remain, that’s when poetry adds another dimension to life’s questions — where you learn to appreciate the uncertainty. Uncertainty can be beautiful too. Poetry helps me see the beauty in things, and sometimes this beauty that a few concise words can conjure is enough an answer.

And of course, poetry keeps me thinking about the many perspectives with which a thing can be viewed. I guess it’s especially important in JC, because this is a time when everything seems to be so focussed on nothing else but academics. Poetry adds new flavour, ideas and perspectives to my life.

Would you say there are recurring themes in your work that you feel strongly about?

I guess it’s hard to classify my work into themes. My poems are mostly just about life — from friends, to work, to things like my daily routine. I think life is something that’s multi-faceted, and that’s perhaps why most of my poems have overlapping themes. It explains perfectly why when I was trying to organise my blog into ideas and themes, I found it extremely difficult — perhaps even impossible to — because of everything being a messy interaction of ideas and concepts that appear everywhere in different aspects.

What is your favourite poem you’ve written and why?

Noun. Plural

– A chain of meaningless words,
(interpreted differently by each individual),
yet strung together into one complex structure
expecting all to understand the same.

E.g. Why do you speak in sentences?

I guess because it expresses the contradictory nature of language. It’s a question I’ve always had for myself when writing poetry: why am I writing this poem if someone is going to understand it differently? I guess it is simply the wonders of words and art that people can understand things so differently, but appreciate it just as beautifully.

Who is your greatest artistic influence?

I guess there are many, but if I have to say one, then it would be Rick Riordan (author of Percy Jackson series). I really admire and respect his ability to use simple words to create imagined realities, and to characterise things that are unreal into something believable. I guess that was what lured me into writing in the first place, to be able to paint narratives that people would buy and indulge in. Except that the narrative that I am creating comprises not works of fiction, but a biased story of life through the lens of Timothy Tan.

What is the greatest challenge you face as a novice poet?

Discipline. I do not have the discipline to write. In fact many ideas click in my mind, and most of the time I’m lazy, so these ideas just pass without making it to paper. Even when I do write, I don’t bother with reading through it again to edit. It’s like inertia. Something that’s probably worse than what you face when studying – at least for studies, there are exams to make sure you actually study. But writing, nah. It always feels like the world wouldn’t change at all even if you completed another piece. It makes little difference, or at least it seems that way.

Can you use a metaphor to illustrate your mental process when writing a poem?

Um, a housefly? Flying everywhere (probably in circles) to find a goal, and getting smacked by other gigantic life assignments.

If you were to publish a collection of poetry, what would be your ideal font or typeface? Why?

It would be in my own handwriting. My handwriting captures the effort, pain and thought in creating those poems, something which other computerised fonts would not show, haha. I hope it will be legible though!

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