18 for Athena
When you were 1
I had just left my teens
Then Lari had someone–
A baby sister
To play with, to tease
To hug, to kiss

Back then I’d carry you
In my arms
Strong paddler arms
But that was back then
I would carry you still

At times when
You were left with me
We’d sing, dance, fight
Watch cartoons
Read a story book
Recite a poem
I’d watch you sleep
While I read a novel
Or study my lessons

When you turned 8
You started to display
Grace and kindness
Lili and Raya came
Your turn as big sis
To play, to tease
To hug, to kiss

You’ve found your love
for singing and music
Like your Lola Cedith
Your voice as angelic
Effortless, flawless
You used to belt a Lea
Or a Sarah G for me–
That memory
Will always be with me

Fast forward to today–18
Yes, you’re now Eighteen.
Darn! How time flies
I may be far away
But, like I always say
Take care dear Athena
Of yourself, your sisters
Your mom and dad

Have a generous heart
Make genuine friends
Keep, give value
to friendships–
old and new.

Much love. Happy Birthday!

I am Carol | A Tribute to Carol Waitohi, Dragons Abreast Gold Coast

Carol Waitohi Dragons Abreast Gold Coast

Dearest Carol,
I don’t know you
I haven’t met you
I just know you’re a paddler
Just like me and so–
I’ve felt your pain
I’ve felt your struggle
How you’ve grasped for air
How you’ve lost your power
Your energy
All of it

I don’t really know what and how
It all happened
I just know it was dark
So silent yet so loud down there
It must’ve been too frightening
It must’ve been very cold

Yet on the other hand
I can still feel you
I have to feel you
Through my writing
I’d jump and come to you
I need to share your pain
Because you are my teammate
Because I am just like you

I am you

Perhaps you even wondered
Were the others safe?
Was everyone okay?
You must have thought of them
Because that’s what dragon boaters do
They care for their team

You must have thought of your team
Until your very last breath–
The breath of love
The breath of teamwork
The breath of team spirit

I paddle on the same water with you
It may not be in your beautiful Australia
But it’s the same water
Where we float our dragon boat on
The same water we glide forth
Which energises and inspires us paddlers

I ride with you on the same boat
The same boat you paddle on
The same dragon boat you sweep
And as I hold and grip my paddle
I can hear you shout the commands
Your motivation to us paddlers
And your cheers for us after each race

I don’t know you Carol
But it seems like I knew you all along
I can visualise your smiles,
While you’re on the boat
I can hear your laughter,
When someone cracks a joke
Because I am Carol, too.
A dragon boater
A dedicated paddler just like you

And, yet, like Carol, we never expect
That we’ll leave this boat of life
In this way, this quick, and this soon.

Aren’t we all Carols?
We love dragon boating
We live to paddle
We’re happy being with our team
We always look forward to training
And so long as we continue to paddle
Carol shall live happily in all of us

Fly high, Carol!

This poem is a loving tribute to the colourful paddling life of Carol Waitohi. Carol has sadly entered the Pearly Gates while on training with her beloved team. She’s a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister and a strong, respectable Pink Ribbon Army supporter of the Dragons Abreast Gold Coast and Currumbin Dragon Boat Club.

Photo Credit: John Napper

You may also like:
Water to Fire – Ode to Dragon Boat
POEM: Into the Dragon’s Lair

Curtains Down | A Tribute to Danny McNie

The red velvet curtain of rage
Came down
Before the final Act

Your presence was felt
Your voice, your snivel
Now sorrow of absence dealt

Can’t seize a glimpse
As lights had dimmed
Vanished youth, vanished beauty

Good bye, Danny
Sweet Angel

*Danny McNie is immortalised in his musical performances in The Music of Alan Menken (Tokyo), Miss Saigon (USA), Voyage de la Vie (Singapore)

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
— Ernest Hemingway

What He Did For Love | A Tribute to Lee Kuan Yew

Embed from Getty Images

I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. There’s nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.

Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015)

This post is a tribute to the life and times of the visionary leader, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He relinquished his life today at the age of 91.

Known to be the Father of Singapore, he helped build Singapore transform and rise to be amongst the First World. Apparently, though, this year is also Singapore’s 50th celebration of independence; it’s such a sad, sad circumstance that he will miss it.

Today, and certainly for many many years, we’ll always remember, with love and pride, his legendary leadership and contribution to Singapore, to South East Asia and to the rest of the world; and, clearly one that’s truly worth emulating. He is well loved and respected all over the globe—this, to us, is his greatest accomplishment–in his life, and, yes, in history.

His life and his legacy is a gift to us, to Singapore, and to the society in general. Let’s carry on with what the great man has built. As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his national address, “Let us dedicate ourselves as one people to build on his foundations, strive for his ideals, and keep Singapore exceptional and successful for many years to come.”

Thank you very much for everything you have done for love of country, your dearly beloved Singapore–for showing us how beautiful, how fierce and how strong that love is.

Fly high, Minister Mentor Lee!

Keep Writing, Keep Waltzing

Keeping Things Whole
by Mark Strand (1934 – 2014)

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.