Life at the Crossroads

31 Mar

Ever remember a time when you were naive and hopeful?  When you were fresh out of school, dewy-eyed and a little wet behind the ears?  Did you dream a beautiful dream untainted by reality? Only to realise you were a fool holding on to mere fantasy…

Well then… back then, almost a decade plus ago, I was in a bad place, primarily emotionally. Nothing I did seemed to feel “right” – not the right job, not the right guy. And nothing I did made me feel good about myself, except this one thing. 


I escaped into a world of my own creation and wrote a poem called Roads.

I was so happy with it that I sent it to the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. I have no idea what possessed me.  I was searching for approval I guess. Some sort of sign that the distress imposed upon me was warranted – that maybe inspiration as the reward for desperation.

I was rejected.

The Editor was very sweet about it and was (on hindsight) really encouraging. But in my mind, all I could see was – “YOU ARE AN EMBARASSMENT!”

I stayed far far away from poetry making thereafter and reasoned – since I didn’t even study Literature in Uni, I should just stay away from writing!

And so I did. For a while. Else I won’t even be here typing! 🙂  My words are a natural extension of myself and to stop myself writing was akin to stopping my breath.

So anyway… today I would like to share the poem I wrote those many emo years back and hope to post some days later, another updated version I have been working on.  The QLRS Editor said it “suffers from trying to be comprehensive” and that “Robert Frost does tower like a colossus over the poem”.

In retrospect. I have to agree! So here goes… (but not before a pretty picture!)

"The Road Less Traveled" Painting by Ellen Rice, inspired by Frost's poem


The first person who thought of lifetime as a road and
life as a journey down that road must be pretty

I’ve often found myself at what couldn’t be better
described as crossroads — two prongs or more.
It isn’t always immediately obvious which one to choose.

You don’t always get to see what’s over the horizon.
Sometimes, you don’t even see those roads at all!
Shrouded in misty darkness or shielded from your sight
by a protective hand.
Sometimes, you don’t get to choose.
The road is so steep you merely roll into the next,
into the next, into the next.
You get up, look back and forgot which wrong turn you made.
And you never get back.

There is a gem of wisdom in the trodden dirt path.
Forget about the roads and walk your own direction.
Takes much courage to do that.
And a sense of direction.
For the dirt trodding, all the world’s a road.
Complex, overlapping, non-linear, neverending swirls.

Sometimes, you might find common travellers.
Together you laugh, cry and support each other along.
But sooner or later, that road so common will find a serpent’s fork.
People will try to walk down different paths.
Hands still held till it strains the arm and makes you
trip on one foot.
Some let go and fall. Some do the letting go and stand
tall. Laughing.
Others simply let vice grips grow loose and apart.
Back there somewhere, there’s always someone you can’t hear, can’t see.
A blurry shadow of the dearly departed, a lingering fragrance of a lover lost.
You would shout but they can’t hear you. Soon, you just move on.
Some lose faith and stand still. Shouting till hoarseness sets.
Then crumbling to a pathetic pile upon the pavement.

But at the end of it all… Wait.
There is no end to the roads.
They go on and on. You, on the other hand, don’t.

– End –


One Response to “Life at the Crossroads”


  1. The One that rhymes aka Roads version 2 « Still.Life. by 宇晗 - April 8, 2011

    […] in an earlier post I said I was going to rework a “poem” I wrote in my (relative) youth. But first, a […]

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