Introducing a new series of poems by Julian Matthews. Julian is a writer and Pushcart-nominated poet published in The American Journal of Poetry, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Borderless Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dream Catcher Magazine,  Live Encounters Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and The New Verse News, among others. He is a mixed-race minority from Malaysia and lived in Ipoh for seven years. Currently based in Petaling Jaya, he is a media trainer and consultant for senior management of multinationals on Effective Media Relations, Social Media and Crisis Communications. He was formerly a journalist with The Star and Nikkei Business Publications Inc


By Julian Matthews

I’m at Kinokuniya, after a long while, since the lockdown
The welcomed scent of fresh, new softcovers permeating through my double mask,
triggering memories of homes past, No 18, Freeman Road,
the bookshelf with the Encyclopaedia Britannica with gold lettering,
and the set of Children’s Classics: Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer, Robin Hood, King Arthur,
a young mind seeded with knowledge, heroes and adventure

And of you cooking curry on the stove,
how you handled the pot and served it without flinching,
your calloused hands unscathed from the heat,
like it was some kind of superpower

Unlike me this morning, pulling the coffee from the microwave
and yelping, like a stepped-on puppy,
almost flipping the mug over
and blowing my fingers
as if it would help

How soft I’ve become in adulthood,
so unrepresentative of your DNA, your tenacity, your resilience,
the innate ability to get through tough times.
Your generation was made of sterner stuff.
My generation applauds from apartment balconies for those in ICU
then waddles back to get our eternal fix from the MCU
For what is a pandemic compared to surviving World War 2
— or motherhood for 65 years?
The heroics of the many in place of the few

I scan the spines of books—
hoping to grow a backbone from all this reading
A wannabe writer, cooking up stories, lacking the same spice
My clumsy hands often hidden, stewing in pockets,
fingers emerging only to type me-me-me poetry
on padded keys,
documenting your hands, thumbprints singed off,
palms toughened from cradling the world
holding on to hearts long after
the scathing

First published in Live Encounters magazine

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