April 28, 2017

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PR

by Joshua Ip

THIS week’s Ipster Cafe is a villanelle, a nineteen-line rhyming form that repeats variants of the first and third line over and over again.

Public Relations.

Public relations, like the sexual kind
are often bought, but best enjoyed when earned.
I wouldn’t say I had to pay for mine.

It’s just a service – no, it’s not a crime.
I’m not engaged, I have the cash to burn
on public relations, like the sexual kind.

Netizens can often be unkind
and actual fans sometimes speak out of turn:
I wouldn’t say I had to pay for mine.

The one place where the two are not aligned:
selfies should not be stiff and taciturn
in public relations, unlike the sexual kind.

Is there an NDA* i have to sign?
If ST asks, all of you are interns.
No one should say I had to pay for mine.

They’re volunteers, I never crossed the line!
They’re only working ladies who’re concerned
with public relations likes, and shares. They’re kind!
Still, I wouldn’t say I had to pay for mine.

*NDA: non-disclosure agreement

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

Featured image PR by Flickr user Niuton mayCC BY 2.0.

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by Joshua Ip

I SMELL the whiff of burning in my country
The list of reasons stretches one week back:
The burning brakes of screaming F1 jockeys
Because some cockster stepped onto the track;
The burning questions of 25,000 callers
Asking what they’ll pay for MediShield Life;

While some pastor burns stacks of paper dollars
To sate the hunger of his yau kwee wife;
Great balls of fire! scream property agents
Who under them have now a fire lit;
Or could it be the smell of the ignition
Of forty minutes of the chestnuts script?

A bullying video drawing our attention
Like a viral fever waiting to be stoked;
Or perhaps it’s just the smell of our election
Analysis still going up in smoke;
I smell the whiff of Singapore, it’s burning
A week of news unearths unbidden horrors…
To what we do best, we should be returning:
Yes, burning up somebody else’s forest.

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

Featured image Campfire by Flickr user Sam HowzitCC BY 2.0. 

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image of a cabinet with many drawers.

by Joshua Ip

MY FRIENDS, the time has come about –
My Cabinet needs clearing out.
My shelves are full, my drawers stacked,
I need to make space from the back
To fit the newer items in
I must throw old ones. Let’s begin.

A Cabinet needs protection, so
One cockroach trap on the inside, Teo!
One cockroach trap outside, Nng Henn,
My wallet tells you I’m Thar Man.
My business card holder is sLim,
My phone rings, “Yaa? Call me, brah, him.”
My pills are Gan, I ate today,
My passport is in order, K.
My address book, they Say, is Swee.
My ezlink card is – well, bo Lui.
I Heng my specs have low degrees.
I already Khaw-llected my house keys!

My water bottle is Vivacious,
My family pictures look Tanacious,
I struggle to recognize the rest –
She looks so Gracefu in that dress,
This label not so good, pan Chan,
I don’t know what that man Iswaran,
I Masa go, kifli one last look,
Oh! You can’t go Wong with a good book.

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

Featured image Filing cabinet by Flickr user mightymightymatzeCC BY-NC 2.0.

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A couple at the WP rally.
HALF DONE: Today's rally mark the half way through the campaigning period. One could only wonder why the PAP did not hold a rally today.

by Joshua Ip

I DON’T know about you, but I just feel very unhappy every day and I’ve been feeling this way since campaigning started. Maybe this is how real democracy is supposed to make you feel. Confused and discontented and hungry to know exactly why.

I don’t like rallies. I don’t like the crowds.
The scrum of getting there and bad 4G,
The speakers dialed to hard-rock concert-loud,
The multilingual scolding aimed at me,
Sometimes I feel I’ve gone back fifty years.
Campaigning has stood still since independence.
One big getai. The scripted jeers and cheers,
The empty seat nobody fails to reference,
The plot and characters both paper-thin,
You tell the good and bad guys by their color.
The audience knows each tune before they sing,
When everybody’s singing for their supper.

This is 2015! I would like graphs
And spreadsheets that someone can explain to me
Cogently, in well-formed paragraphs,
Not stadiums filled with shouters, bores and loonies.
We have the internet and all its ways –
Nobody reads a man by how he speaks
These days. I want to see their resumes
Laid out side by side in infographics
Their PSLE scores, L1R5,
CCA points, when they last made the news,
Their list of boy/girlfriends, husbands or wives
Since puberty, complete with top reviews,
Their horoscope, blood type, birth date and time,
Their height, their weight, IPPT award,
Their lifetime total parking ticket fines,
Even their kid’s PSLE records.
I also need day-by-day Power Rankings,
Bookie’s odds, the best Team of the Week,
Each speech subject to multiple fact-checkings
To catch them lying even as they speak.

Because I’m both excited and afraid
That I have a real choice and I must make it
And I don’t dare to cast it easily swayed
By demagogues who simply smile and fake it
But all the news reads like an animal farm
That feeds a public hungry for sound bytes
Too fast to jump at words, swiftly alarmed,
Analysis is either blue or white.
With too many opinions, few hard facts
Now all I am is stuck between diminished
Quotes which I can’t take out of context
And videos which I’m too lazy to finish.

 

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

Featured photo by Chong Yew Kong.

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Joshua Taylor mic red
Joshua Taylor mic red

by Joshua Ip

THIS week, in the spirit of General Election and Taylor Swift’s win at the VMAs, I bring you an interpretation of what political candidates would like to be singing this GE.

[Click play and scroll down to sing along]

[Verse 1]
Nice to meet you
Where you been?
Haven’t seen you since the last GE
Hammer! Star Trek! Walls ice-cream!
Saw you there and I thought, Oh my god,
Look at that face, you look like JBJ,
Politics – wanna play?
Meet the people, walk on by,
I can read you in Lianhe Zaobao,
Ain’t it funny, rumors fly,
And your wife tells you to go sleep right now,
All your friends,
They know how this one ends
Grab your IC and my hand
I would vote for anyone for a long weekend

[Pre-Chorus]
So it’s gonna be September
Cause it’s LKY’s birthday
You can tell me when it’s over
Hungry Ghosts have gone away
Just because I go to hawkers
They’ll tell you I look gian
Cause you know I love bak chor mee
But you love orh jian

[Chorus]
Cause we’re young and we’re reckless
We’re just a suicide squad
Even though we’re cashless
Crowdfunding does a lot
Got a long list of ex-MPs
They’ll tell you I’m insane
But you got a blank space, baby…
Just cross my name

[Verse 2]
Foreign workers, 6.9
I could show you incredible things
Sudden ponding, broke train lines
You’re the king, baby, I’m your
Queen just like
A potted plant
Eat bok choy for a month
But the worst is yet to come
Oh no
Hara-kiri, poison pen
Ah kong tells me that I’ll repent
Naked photos, taken when?
Keep you second guessing like, oh my god,
Who is she? Nicole Seah with a law degree?
But you’ll come back each time you leave
Cause darling I’m a model dressed like a MP

[Pre-Chorus]
So it’s gross profiteering
Never file ACRA
Civil service interfering
Press release on Saturday
Got a long list of court hearings
But this year got surplus leh
They say money’s disappearing
But they pay and pay

[Chorus]
Will you read my manifesto
Tell you what’s going on
Do my press release al fresco
Outside a hair salon
I forgot to check my Tamil
Give me time to get that done
But you got a blank space baby
Just cross my name

[Bridge]
Boys only want to vote to see me tortured
Don’t say I didn’t say I didn’t warn ya
Boys only want to vote to see me tortured
Don’t say I didn’t say I didn’t warn ya

[Pre-Chorus]
So I’m stopping immigration
I’ll return your CPF
Spend money on transportation
Institute a safety net
Gotta fix our education
Cut taxes ten percent
Cause you know I love our nation
So I’ll cut NS!

[Chorus]
Cause we’re young and we’re reckless
More voices in parliament
Freak results will leave you breathless
But please don’t believe them
Got a long list of ex-MPs
They’ll tell you I’m insane
But you got a blank space baby
Just cross my name.

 

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

Featured image open mic by Flickr user Ed SchipulCC BY-SA 2.0

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KIT CHAN AT NDR

by Joshua Ip

THIS week, in the spirit of Kit Chan, I bring you a quick musical summary of National Day Rally, to be sung dramatically to the tune of “Home”.

[Click play and scroll down to sing along]

(verse 1)
Whenever I am feeling low
I tune my TV to Okto
And I watch PM try to tell me
All the good things to buy my vote
I will always recall this rally
Kit Chan’s random encore
Just like that strange girl who won’t sit down
We’ll stand up for Singapore

(chorus 1)
This is home, truly
$12k buy HDB
$14k got EC
Where the grant money still flows
So apply, SHG
Stay close to your family
Second time, rent-paying househooollllddsss–
Get a fresh start, to buy a home!

(verse 2)
We’ll build in Punggol SIT
with a link bridge to JTC
We’ll let you work till 67
(But only if you vote for me)
We’ll extend the baby bonus
Medishield till 21
All the daddies will have extra leave
Backdated to January 1

(chorus 2)
This is home, truly
Ching chong Muthusamy
Tin Pei Ling make baby
Handsome hawker, Ang Mo Kio
This is home, surely
Bojio Workers’ Party
How we know, got one month to go–
Election time, all must feel shiok!

(final chorus)
So I ask, “Daddy,
Will we last a century?”
Daddy told me, “Maybe,
If we stay corruption-free.”
So I ask, Daddy
One last time in January,
“SG100, will we have a hooooome –?”
He said, “Of course we will, Ah Loong!”
“Of course we’ll have a better home!”
“For this is lim peh ka li kong!”

 

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

Video by Youtube user Stanley Yong.

Featured image is a Youtube video screenshot of National Day Rally by Prime Minister’s Office Singapore.

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Photo of a deserted island.
M4034S-4211

by Joshua Ip

THE smartest people in the country
Boarded a new plane
To fly across the South China Sea
In torrential rain

But lightning struck the A380
With a dreadful flash
The plane plummeted down and gently
Touched down with a splash

They swam their way towards an island
Neither there nor here
Somewhere near Philippines or Thailand
Aiyah, God knows where they were

The situation wasn’t pretty.
The elites conferred in turn.
They chose to form a new committee
To form a government.

Someone should hunt for food and water
Or find a housing spot.
But first someone must tell them, “Brother,
Here can here cannot!”

The candidates marched up the beach
Fresh flowers round their necks
They went round shaking hands with each
Survivor of the wreck.

“I am a banker”, this one cried.
“A lawyer”, this one bragged.
“How will you feed us?”, some replied.
The elite shoulders sagged.

“NTUC Foodfare was my tan jia!”
One man spoke.
“But hor, I forgot to bring my kah kias,”
He then choked.

“I run a chocolate factory!”
“Mai siao lah, Willy Wonka!”
“I only check intestines,”
“I don’t fill them”, said a doctor.

The islanders spotted stormy weather
And began to grouse:
“Who knows how to build a shelter
Or how to construct a house?”

“I sell property!” “I work with REITs!”
Two misled souls declared.
“I used to host the Pyramid Game!”
Everyone just glared.

“It’s not our fault that none of us
Can’t work to give a damn –
We need someone with actual skills
So we can manage them!”

The islanders were unconvinced
And started throwing sticks
The cooler heads among them winced
At this negative politics

Then up stepped five young strapping fellas
With a strapping plan
They broke out into acappella
Call us The Boy Band!

Who cares if our day jobs are boring
If we sound ok
Our voices sweet, our fans adoring
~I want it that way~

They still sing songs to celebrate
Their landslide victory
(Until a big tsunami came
And swept them out to sea)

so, friends, what moral have we got
out of this short recital?
your job experience ain’t worth squat 
think of a catchy title.

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

Featured image DOMINICAN REPUBLIC by Ronald Saunders, CC BY-NC 2.0

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephanridgway/3716839104/

THIS Tuesday, I bring you a fantastical tale of a future Singapore celebrating SG100, after surviving horrible almost-end-of-the-world nightmare scenarios such as invasion by China, the opposition taking power, a gay man entering cabinet etc. Singapore 2065 has only managed to survive thanks to the visionary leadership of one man (probably only in his twenties today), who unfortunately, passed away just before SG100. This is his obituary.

 

by Joshua Ip

Friends, I come today to bury,
Not to praise. Obituaries
Are a maze you lose yourself in
For his labyrinthine turnings
His maneuvers and reversals
Can’t be judged until it’s finished.
A single ball of thread
Tied to the post before you run –
When after all is said,

He did what had to be done.

He was never good at rallies
Being stilted and uncharis-
matic, slight of frame unlike
His father, but he compensated
With a blog that millions followed
Granting social media stature
Loftier than Xiaxue.
Li picked his medium –
His words would bring him there.

He did what had to be done.

In the Chinese Occupation
He got by hawking translation.
Those who lived through the Resistance
Have it both ways and the records
Are misplaced or non-existent
And the rumors are just rumors
But all agree on these lines –
Young Li, like everyone
Who lived through those Red times,

He did what had to be done.

In the years post-Liberation
He seethed as the opposition
Swept to power in a landslide
Stoking nationalistic fervor,
Promptly turning more draconian
Than his grandpa at his best. They sued
Li’s clan for libel, backdated.
Young Li just held his tongue.
Even when incarcerated.

He did what had to be done.

He watched from his cell for decades
As the country went to wreckage
As the Seah Parliament bickered
And the Tin Parliament tittered
His release, uncelebrated
By the much-fragmented nation
On that 2040 hour –
The Man at last had come
Of age and in his power.

He did what had to be done.

With a status update like a
Thousand trumpets blowing fire
He rose in Tanjong Pagar
To claim his ancestral fiefdom!
Running as an independent
He swiftly formed the New Coalition,
Though his assets weren’t many
As a bankrupted ex-con.
So he married into money.

He did what had to be done.

He mended all his fences
And recruited influencers:
Well-loved Joseph of the Schoolings,
Dapper Khengsman of the Willows,
For he knew his people needed
More than just one pretty face.
His chief publicist, Amos, served
Him like an adopted son.
He groomed him with great love.

He did what had to be done.

The government was body-slammed
By his exposes on Instagram
Revealing all their scandals
Decked in Hipstamatic filters.
In the year 2046
In a razor-close election,
They named him PM Li
Of a shaky coalition –
So he raised their salaries.

He did what had to be done.

Through his daily Snapchat broadcasts
He decreed a rise in taxes,
Declared universal healthcare,
And then implemented welfare,
Put a gay man into Cabinet,
(Who just happened to be his cousin.)
Liberalism was in fashion.
He was not his father’s son.
With radical progression,

He did what had to be done.

He raided the reserves to fund
His grandiose plans for everyone
And after two terms of largesse
Declared GIC’s fund distressed.
But politics is about heng suey –
He found oil under Marina Bay!
Nobody could believe!
The experts were all stunned.
PM Li was relieved.

He did what had to be done.

The Johor Acquisition
And the Great Straits Reclamation
And the War of Batam-Bintan
Were the glories of the golden
Second decade of his diktat,
And he handed his successor
A solid legacy:
A swollen national fund.
We knew, our PM Li:

He did what had to be done.

As the Minister Consultant
He retreated to the mountain
That he built in Bukit Timah
To roll with President Obama
II, Bush III, and IV, the drama
Of incessant heads of state
Consulting the Great Li:
A statesman second to none.
He scolded them regularly.

He did what had to be done.

In the doddering of his dotage
He received undue reportage
Of young punks trying to question
History so he reinvented
Himself as the Great filmmaker
Making prize-winning documentaries
Of his great Singapore Story.
(The schools were told as one
To make it mandatory.)

He did what had to be done.

Friends, I come today to bury,
Not to praise. Obituaries
Are a maze you lose yourself in.
Into the night our PM
Walked alone and into darkness
To meet his glorious forefathers.
A single ball of thread
Tied to the post before you run –
When after all is said,

He did what had to be done.

 

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

Featured image My Fathers Funeral by Stephan RidgwayCC BY 2.0.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/shadedink/7358683402/

FROM today, The Middle Ground will be introducing a new weekly series, Ipster Cafe, by Singaporean poet Joshua Ip. Hooray! Joshua’s poems will be satirical takes on current affairs. This week, he’s beginning the series with a little tale about a family up north.

 

by Joshua Ip

The family bought a tub of Walls

And put it in the family fridge

To save up for 1 Magical

Delicious Bread ais krim sandwich.

But one day when they looked inside

To lick their lips and gaze upon

Their chocolatey hope and pride

The fridge was bare! The Walls was gone!

The second brother, left in charge

just shrugged. “Ice cream won’t disappear,

we must believe it’s still at large,

maybe behind the cereal here!”

His big brother cried out apace

“You look like you have lots to hide!

I see the coklat on your face –

Don’t wipe your hands on your backside!”

The family paid scarce attention

To biggest brother’s bigger mouth.

Third brother tried to jangan tension,

Fourth brother searched the fridge himself.

His eyes revealed a chocolate trail

That led to second brother’s mouth!

Before he could the truth avail,

Second brother shout loud loud!

“Abang, adik, no need so steam,

I would not rob kawan-kawan!

I did not steal the fridge ice cream!

This one some uncle give me one!”

One bro said “Oh”. One bro said “Har?”

His big brother intoned, “Lam pah!”

“Shut up!”, cried Second angrily.

“I won’t shut up!”, screamed Number Three.

Then inside charged an angry horde

of boys, who kicked three brothers out

Second brother named them first, third, fourth –

They thanked him, licking chocolate mouths.

Smiling, second brother thought

“This is the public’s will, not theft.

You see, my friends, it seems I’ve got

more bangs than you have ice cream left!”

 

– Joshua Ip is a cheem poetry writer. His girlfriend says he should try to be less cheem, so liedat lor.

 

 

Featured image: Love Ice-Cream by Ling HCC BY-NC 2.0.

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