Poem: Moment Before A Storm

Moment Before A Storm
Dark clouds hang low
Rumblings of restiveness
Pregnant and impatient

Wind blusters across vacant ground
Trees tremble in anticipation

The world lost in thought
Pensive moment of quiet
Before that first drop of rain

12 May 2004
Ivan Chew

I was walking the dog one morning. Sky was overcast. Was that loveliest of moments, that instant before the rain, you can smell the rain in the air, the wind blowing and no one around except my dog and me, my mind free from worry. So I wrote the poem to preserve that moment in time, mainly for myself.

[Originally posted at Seeds_o_Light]



Poem: “Photographs”

Photographs hold painful
Memories of yesterdays
Pieces of history
Captured in snapshots

Time’s Petri dish
Evoking whatnots
and What-ifs

Ivan Chew
18 Apr 2004

This poem was first posted at the Seeds_o_Light poetry group I started in 2004. The group is inactive now, though at the start there were members giving comments and suggestions. This was what I posted in response to comments from members about the poem.

The poem came about when I was going over some old photos. A few of them showed me in really geeky & unflattering poses. That was the painful part. More of a “Gee, how embarrassing” kind of pain rather than something tragic or “dirty”. The word “painful memories” came
to mind so I worked on it further. “Embarrassing memories” just lacks the punch, don’t you think?

Some other photos made me think of the “then & now”. E.g. how would “now” be different if I had not met that person; wondering
where so-and-so is right now; wondering what that guy next to me was thinking of when the picture was taken.

The phrase “Time’s Petri dish” tries to convey this idea of people peering into photographic pieces of their past (alliteration
intended lol), like how a scientist would peer down a microscope to study a bacteria culture in a Petri dish.

1983. First colour TV in a flat at Toa Payoh. Contributed by Koy Wan Beng. HRS4 i-remember-sg (HRS4_0300#1)
Originally uploaded by SNAP: Singapore National Album of Pictures

Song: Old Man and the Sea II

Fellow ccMixterist, panu moonexplained that “k’laerge lomi” means “chapel at Lomi”. A bit of googling led me to a name that was related to Hawaii. Perhaps not what panu had in mind but anyway it made me think of the sea. Which made me think of Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea. I wanted to create an asian-sounding instrumental piece. So here it is. As always, comments of any sort are welcome.

Thanks to panu for granting me permission to release this under a CC-BY license.


Creative Commons LicenseOld Man and the Sea II by Ivan Chew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Singapore License. Please credit to “Ivan Chew – MyRightBrain.wordpress.com“. And I’d appreciate if you also credit “panu moon – www.myspace.com/2panumoon2“.

I converted panu’s MP3 to AIF using Audacity. Then imported it to GarageBand. Tried to figure out the BPM to panu’s guitar stem. Finally worked out to be something between 140-ish. So I cut and spliced panu’s original stem to a new bpm, ‘cos I wanted a more even and upbeat tempo but still retain panu’s original emotive feel.

At first I wanted to create a similar celtic-sounding track but decided to experiment with a Asian sound. I tried some tentative loops and software instrument layers. Sounded right to my ears. So added more layers of instrumentation as I thought appropriate.


man + sea
Originally uploaded by sgrace



Fake movie poster: Legend of Red Hill

Discovered this very cool website called BigHugeLabs. Tried out the movie poster maker feature. And created this:

Fake movie poster: Legend of Red Hill

Neat, eh? 🙂

The image was from a set of illustrations I produced in 2005, for the opening of Bukit Merah Public Library (then known as Bukit Merah Community Library).

The larger sized poster can be viewed here.

Jokers in a Train

Two girls
Where I sat

Were cracking jokes
Out of boredom:

“Have you heard the one about the vacuum cleaner?”

“It sucked.”

“How about the archaeology one?”

“It rocked!”

They laughed so much
They missed their stop.

Ivan Chew
22 Sept 2009
p.s. It was an actual situation. The two students didn’t miss their stop though. Though they almost did. They rushed out the doors just as it was closing 🙂

April’s Dawn (part 2)

[From Part 1]

Dawn's Sky 3

From the quiet park, I walk into a slumbering HDB estate. I am in a carpark, larger than most. Instead of the usual family-sized cars and SUVs, I’m towered by buses and trucks. Hundreds of residents were still asleep on this Sunday morning. There is/ was no clattering of pans and plates. No blares of Sunday morning cartoon channels.

My stomach signaled for food. I am at a coffee shop under a HDB block. I’m in an unfamilar part of my neighbourhood but in a familar setting. Only a handful of customers having breakfast of prata and coffee, or tea. My breakfast was noodles and Teh-c.

Like most hawkers and proprietors nowadays, they were cordial and prompt. But this coffee shop seemed to be a bit friendlier than most. Not exactly bright chirpy faces but there were no dour expressions despite the early hour. The stern looking, short skinny mustachioed man took my order and served me my tea. I asked, in Hokkien, if it was 90 cents. He said yes accepted my payment with a thank you, in Singaporean-accented Mandarin.

In between mouthfuls, i glanced at the customers. At the far corner, the proprietess of the drink stall was having a quiet joke with some customers. An elderly woman sat directly ahead of me, five tables away. She had a pao and coffee, reading her morning news.

The short and skinny mustachioed drink stall assistant was clearing the tables of empty cups, serving the desired beverages, taking more orders. He shouting the orders out loud as he walked back to the stall. The desired beverages appeared like magic on the drink stall counter.

A table of four were on my left, probably a family — with a two aged men a woman, and a teenage boy. They were soon joined by a young mother carrying her infant. The mother cooed her baby with a tibit, who gurgled but ignored the treat.

The prata man was busy with his flipping and frying. The man who sold me my breakfast was now sitting down to eat his own. He bought his from the prata man. I wondered what the prata man would eat.

My plate and cup was empty. My watch told me it was a quarter past 7. It’d been under an hour from my short jaunt at the park to my finishing breakfast. The sky had brightened without my notice. The ground was wet but the rain has since stopped. The neighbourhood has awoken. There are more customers buying their breakfast. Some still in pajamas. Some in their Sunday finery.

On a whim, I decided to write all this down. Maybe it was the still quiet morning and warm food in my belly. As I come to the end of this note, an hour and half has passed — longer than my walk. The coffee shop is filled with customers but not quite full. I’m undisturbed and largely ignored. The coffee shop lady comes over. She clears my table. She doesn’t look at me or speak. But she has a friendly smile. I’m not surprised why there’s a neighbourly charm to this place.

I stand up and walked home, contented.