of course your work comes first.
after that, you may go for a walk,
visit friends but, all the same,
it is always correct to ask
before you do anything else.

so if you say: please may i jump
off the ledge? & go on to add
this work is really killing,
you will be told: start jumping.
no one is in any way
narrow-minded anymore these days.
it is that everyone likes to know
these things way beforehand.
but if you state: i’m going now,
jumping off the ledge
most probably they will say nothing.
thinking should it legally, morally,
departmentally, be yes/no/perhaps.
or if it’s not too late:
why don’t you come along? we shall bring
this matter up to a higher level.

by Arthur Yap
from down the line (1980)


SELECTED POEMS: "paraphrase" >