tracks by madeleine lee

May 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Heritage, Stories, Transport

The series of 9 poems shared by Madeleine Lee during The Green Corridor Forum:

tracks by madeleine lee

i     railway

at five each day give or take
a trundling rusty centipede
creaking past beaten panels
zinc tokens of sound proofing
awakening grumbling

its steely tiger head suddenly
silenced after a century
background noisy dischord
foreground political jar
in between some elevator music

stepping onto meter tracks
between s and m infinite h’s
now less risky
now equidistant
still wanting perspective

ii    parallel lines

if parallel lines never
will they know they were

iii     two ruler method

line up two rulers
one angled rightly against another
moving tightly keeping still the other
soon you will arrive at its parallel
of the original line-age

if you do this long enough
you will find every sixteen kilometers
a hindu temple
a repetitive shrine

iv     pencil shaving

in the macritchie forest they came
in black copper and gold
in bukit timah another fashion
in autumn winter collection

first on a fallen tree
an overpass for streaming ants
a pair of bright orange brackets
like freshly cored persimmon skins

next on another decay
sawdust brown striped
pencil shaving whorls
from rewriting peninsula history

v     signal

the old signal box lies prone
painted over numerous times
now in the lamp-post grey green
like a pigeon’s undercoat paraplegic-like
sheffield made by sge signal company
responding only to pre war signals
coming from equally antique mechanical shifts
from the dinky bukit timah station house

vi     15 degrees

the singaporean clock
adjusted many times

1905 gmt + 7hr
1920 gmt + 7hr 30mins
1933 gmt + 7hr 20 mins precisely
1935 gmt + 7hr 30 mins late again
1942 gmt + 9hr nihon jikan
1945 gmt + 7hr 30mins surrender time
1982 gmt + 8hr malaysian time after all

the leguminosae raintree came from
central america pre-gmt time
at dusk its compound leaves fold
defiant of daylight saved or wasted
pukul lima remains unaffected

vii     passport

in journeying from malayan territories
stowed away in carfuls
in search of settlement
botanical migrants bring no passports

viii     circle

the station master was grumpy
as we had not asked his permission
to record the last bits of transport history
after all the sign did say no photography

as we stepped onto paving stones
so old that they could tell occupation tales
he flopped onto his as ancient bicycle
bearing a large white leather bound brass ring

just retrieved from the inbound train
creaking to the head of the outbound
handing it over to the awaiting driver
in a ritual as old as the outmoded tracks

so as to ensure no head-on collision
even as the science of scheduling
and the leap of computing power
overtake the trains passing them by

ix     history

in the annals of malaya
if nations stayed parallel
but did not meet
would we know how close they came

27 Oct 2010

Source credit: Madeleine Lee

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