The Zebra

Normally there are pandas and grayscales
Bleached paper and black ink: that is enough to see.
But I am told other colours exist too, which can be mixed
I smell of violet strangeness to the strangers who brush past
Who paint me with their hopes; who stroke me with their fears

Normally when the redness comes I burn the bridges
Ringing the old bell of dissonance and discontent
Yelling the spells to unravel the knots of blood and memory
I taste of lilac tartness to the lost friends who brush past
Who layer me with their pasts; who glaze me with their eyes

Normally when the blueness comes I run into the caves;
Late into the hot silent darkness my mirror comes to peer at me
My reflection scratches at its sockets, still tender from being gouged
I dream of the celebrants who brush past: sleeping swimmers
Who mix me with their palettes, and call me art.

Normally I am.



This poem was originally written for Singpowrimo2016, but i felt that the prompt didn’t make much sense anyway since I’d gone wildly off-tangent for this one. I thought posting this post here “as-is”, standalone, would allow it to speak more distinctly and loudly.

Inspired by the vivid, lush prose of Ben Okri, and the illusory black-and-white dichotomies of real life.  I dwelled on lost friends, and how I lose them as I wrote this; melancholy and how it consumes me on graysky days. Things are rarely black-and-white, cut and dried. And even if they are the light you shine on them forms liquid, shifting overlays that change and then change again.

The Zebra was also a painting I did recently, and until I came back to this poem I hadn’t realised that the poem had been nestling in my mind when I sketched, then painted it. You can see a little of the “violet strangeness” [Stanza 1] and “lilac tartness”  [Stanza 2]  in the very painting itself. 

This is my very first art+poetry post. If you like this I’ll compose a few more in the future!


2 thoughts on “The Zebra

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