john tiong chunghoo

(Jan 21,1960 / NEW YORK)

A Brook In The City

in my heart
a river runs
alluvial, fishes,
leaves, flowers and all
a catfish winds
its way up to the surface
shows its pinkish whiskers
and round mouth
and down in a fleet second
puyu splash
their way down
after a fall
bubble, splash, bubble, splash,
big fish, small fish,
down the river
their only way to show
joy and gratitude
for nature's care
like a gymnast
they turn their tails up
bend and sweep
the water swivels
and down they go
head plunging
the river a stage
of tail splashing game
how the world has changed since
thirty years the sweep of a puyu's tail
i could still collect that childhood heart
that had gone afflutter
the river that has changed course
to run through my heart
calming nerves and evoking childhood joy
the river now buried deep
in the town's memory
the river now imprisoned
caged between cement walls
no more fishes, no more splashdance, breakdance
red water, blooms and leaves!
the river that now only has me as its fish
splashing every now and then
to let its sweetness flow forth
the river now buried deep in the earth
in the city's mind

inspired by

A Brook In The City
The farmhouse lingers, though averse to square
With the new city street it has to wear
A number in. But what about the brook
That held the house as in an elbow-crook?
I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength
And impulse, having dipped a finger length
And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed
A flower to try its currents where they crossed.
The meadow grass could be cemented down
From growing under pavements of a town;
The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame.
Is water wood to serve a brook the same?
How else dispose of an immortal force
No longer needed? Staunch it at its source
With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was thrown
Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone
In fetid darkness still to live and run -
And all for nothing it had ever done
Except forget to go in fear perhaps.
No one would know except for ancient maps
That such a brook ran water. But I wonder
If from its being kept forever under,
The thoughts may not have risen that so keep
This new-built city from both work and sleep.
Robert Frost

Submitted: Saturday, June 04, 2005
Edited: Sunday, June 12, 2005

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Comments about this poem (A Brook In The City by john tiong chunghoo )

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  • Rookie - 661 Points David Desantis (4/30/2008 7:38:00 AM)

    a catfish winds
    its way up to the surface
    shows its pinkish whiskers
    and round mouth
    and down in a fleet second

    EXCELLENT imagery right there...the descriptions in this one jump off the page almost as one of the 'fish' you describe might...beautiful (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 661 Points Shelley L Baxter-Stanley (4/19/2007 1:10:00 PM)

    John, I really love this! I can see the brook...and the fish and I think boy it would be nice to be there right now! Great job, wonderful title and just a well written piece of poetry!
    Keep sharing from your heart and congratulations on being #2 in the popular IP votes! I can see why you are there.
    =Shelley= (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 661 Points Esther Leclerc (6/4/2006 11:40:00 AM)

    John...... I love this poem! Beautiful expression of memory and spirit.

    i could still collect that childhood heart
    that had gone afflutter
    the river that has changed course
    to run through my heart (Report) Reply

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