fleeting thoughts of a fevered lover


photo by skeeze @ pixabay.com

fleeting thoughts of a fevered lover 

the gurgling of peace
in confused currents of a
soft-silvered stream
that runs under my pillow
is joined
by the stringed reflection
of your guitar —
a heartfelt tone of some
moonbeam lights in nights
of rambling cries.

you are the rosy-colored aura
that promises a carefree world
atop the branches of framed air
you come swinging to and fro
up and down with the elegance
of the eagle
that is contained in your tune.

i am lulled by your winged hoverings
i am lulled
by the wideness of blue heaven
you occupy.

yes, you are
the distant mountain that bathes
in sunlight yet hides
in the shadows
of the stretching foliage
of some remote myths.

© said sadain, jr. 1974

Author’s note: 

This is my very first poem published in a national magazine (Focus Philippines, May 18, 1974 issue), written late in 1973 or very early 1974 when I was 15 years old. Contrary to some who thought that this was written for a schoolgirl, the poem was (and continues to be) about the yearning for peace and order that many of the townsfolk in that enigmatic land, Sulu, knew was slipping farther away during that period.  By the time the poem was published, what remaining pieces of peace and order in the land had been totally shattered, and would remain elusive as a myth for a long, long time to come.

This post, while not part of the collection: Mt. Tumantangis and Other Poems on Sulu, serves as an introduction to this collection of 12 poems, which I shall be posting in the coming weeks.

– SSJ, 13 October 2017

Some related readings: 










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the crocodile and the flies of bunawan

the crocodile and the flies of bunawan

they believe they caught the biggest saltwater crocodile alive
the same crocodile that they think feasted on their
water buffaloes, the same crocodile
they hold responsible for
the disappearance
of a farmer
a moon ago
the same crocodile
which must have exhausted
their chief hunter to his quietus some days back.
the hunters are happy they will get paid
a handsome fee for keeping
the crocodile restrained,
but they tense up
to tell one another:
there could still be a bigger one
out there in the marshes, perhaps a mate
that in time while we sleep will become mighty deadlier.
and the flies that herald the news to the other flies
linger on to keep vigil on the crocodile’s snout,
buzzing, humming but mostly bemoaning
the dried-up cake of blood
and the sullied bits
of last night’s

© SSJ 2011

Author’s note:

Bunawan is a backwater municipality in the province of Agusan del Sur in Mindanao, Philippines. It is one of the towns surrounding the vast Agusan marshland, a 15,000 hectare wildlife sanctuary, that is nevertheless being navigated daily by the townspeople surrounding the wetlands: people trying to eke out a living by fishing in the marshes, or moving their wares from one town to the other, or travelling to schools and service centers on light drift boats, flimsy dug-out canoes or crude bamboo rafts.

The town earned its 15 minutes of fame, or more accurately, some 18 months of fame (or notoriety, depending on how one looks at it), when on Sept. 3, 2011, a 3-month long hunt by local villagers, later on joined by the more experienced crocodile hunters of another Philippine island, Palawan, finally caught what became known as the largest crocodile in captivity  (see a YouTube video here about the capture). The huge reptile was named Lolong, after Ernesto “Lolong” Goloran Cañete,  a veteran crocodile hunter from the Palawan Crocodile and Wildlife Reservation Center, who led the hunting party for weeks until he succumbed to a heart attack a few days before the crocodile was captured. 

Lolong is of the crocodylus porosus species, a saltwater crocodile that is considered as the most dangerous extant crocodilian to humans. He was suspected of chomping off the head of a 12-year old girl as she paddled her way to school in 2009. In June of 2011, a fisherman went missing and was presumed to have also been savaged by Lolong while fishing in the wetlands. The spate of crocodile attacks on boats, water buffaloes and other livestock around the marshes during this period finally compelled the authorities to conduct its own search and hunt along with the villagers of the marshlands who were convinced that the only way to protect themselves was to hunt down all the crocodiles and remove them from the marsh.

Lolong, in captivity, was measured by zoologist Adam Britton for the Natural History New Zealand and the National Geographic in November 2011, and in June 2012, based on Britton’s measurement and the evidence provided by the National Geographic Wild’s program Monster Croc Hunt, the Guinness World Records declared Lolong to be the largest crocodile in captivity at 6.17 meters (20.24 feet). Additionally, according to Britton, Lolong also weighed 1075 kgs. (2370 lbs) at the time of captivity, thus edging out the crocodylus porosus record-holder, Cassius, a giant at 5.48 meters (18.0 feet) in length and weighing around 998 kgs. (2200 lbs), being cared for at Marineland Melanesia, Green Island, Queensland, Australia.

On February 10, 2013, Lolong flipped over on his back and died in the shallow pond enclosure that became his miserable domicile in the so-called Bunawan Eco-Park, a hastily, and cheaply, prepared center ostensibly set up to care for the giant crocodile, which was, according to Bunawan’s mayor, Edwin “Cox” Elorde, ‘saved’ from villagers who would have probably killed it immediately if they caught the crocodile without government supervision. The center promptly started charging entrance fees of P20.0 (around US$ 0.50 or so in 2011-2012) for each adult ‘eco-tourist’ visiting the center from far and wide, and a little bit more for those visitors for whom the park would drain Lolong’s pond for a few minutes so the gawkers can better view his full-length body glistening on the cement flooring of the pool.

The necropsy done on Lolong’s carcass revealed that he died from multiple organ failure (congestive heart failure, lipidosis of the liver, kidney failure) resulting in a compromised immune system that was compounded by fungal pneumonia and extreme bad weather, with experts suggesting that the impairment of Lolong’s health, among other things, may have been due to unusual stress of how he was kept in captivity, not captivity itself.  Cassius, who was Guinness World Records title-holder on being the largest captive crocodile before Lolong ousted him, has been in captivity since 1984 and in a smaller pond than Lolong’s. Cassius is now over a hundred years old. Lolong is believed to have lived only a little over 50 years old.

Guinness World Records promptly restored the world record back to Cassius as the largest crocodile in captivity.

Meanwhile, the people of Bunawan continue to dream about the crocodiles of the marshland. Some of its officials were quoted to be planning to further develop the Bunawan Ecopark to include the construction of cottages, lodging houses or inns, swimming pools, amphitheatre, laboratory and research center, souvenir shops, pavilions and other amenities, considering that there could be more than 5000 crocodiles out there in the Agusan marshes, some giants that could be bigger than Lolong.

The flies of Bunawan might just call the next captive giant “Lolonger”.

— SSJ, 7 October 2017

Video: The capture of Lolong by the crocodile hunters of Bunawan

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windows are made for breathing

windows are made for
breathing even when they’re closed
they get more respect

than doors that divide when shut
or disquiet when open

and windows are made
for catching the world beyond
they don’t wait for doors

to let in or to let out
they are there and here at once

© SSJ 2017

Author’s note: 

The pictures above are of a witty pigeon who chooses to nest on the ledge outside one of the windows of our Jeddah residence. It knows that the wind is stronger this time of the year and the laurel tree nearby will be too shaky for her eggs. This is probably the female of a love pair, and she has just laid the first egg of this season’s brood. In the next days, she will lay a second and maybe a third egg, but no more than that. Then she and her male partner will take turns incubating the eggs, the female usually sitting in the nest at night, and the male during most of the day, for a little less than 3 weeks before the hatchlings break from their shells.  The love pair will usually stick to one another, raising several broods all year round, or until death do them part.

Below is a poetry video that I have previously posted in this blog, with the same theme about windows breathing light to wings of life:


light breathes on, a poetry video

— SSJ, 29 September 2017

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Peculiar 5-7-5s and their imaginings


screen image of Zee’s illustration work, The Shot, © SSJ 2017

The book project I mentioned previously (in The Lives Words Live) is taking shape slowly but surely.

In this post, I share some aspects of the development process between Zee and me. Since Zee is illustrating from his base in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while I am mostly tied up with office work here in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, we have agreed on some mechanics of communication and procedures to ensure we are both on the same page most of the time so that re-work, when necessary, can be minimized.

I would select a poem and give Zee the liberty to initially interpret it with very rough sketches as much as he wants, then we discuss the interpretations some more before Zee develops a particular sketch into a more detailed illustration that could go through several more iterations until we deem it satisfactory enough.

Initial ideas are shown below for the poem, “The Shot:

two birds with one shot
and there’s but one caveat:
birds free, shooter not.

© SSJ 2016


In all these, we have agreed that the computer illustrations must be done using a liberal number of layers so that alterations can be done on details, big or small, without redoing the other parts of the work. We also find layering to be very convenient in testing and experimenting with the interplay of colors among the various elements of the drawing. Below are some screen shots of the iterations while developing the illustration for “The Shot”, showing how layers help with testing the colors.


The final illustration will actually show the shooter with a smartphone camera at the tip of the selfie stick of a rifle, with face, still grim and cold, a little sideways looking up into the camera instead of staring straight at you. The final colors will be less dark, but nevertheless laden and anguished.

I expect this project to get slower than it already is, with Zee going back to university to pursue his master’s degree in architecture starting this September, but there really is no time constraint for now. We intend to continue working on the project on our weekends only, and not try to layer it with our weekday studies and jobs.

Meanwhile, we welcome your comments and suggestions on how things could be further improved. In fact, we’ll go one better:

Review any of the 5-7-5 poems in this list:

Child’s Play
Walking on Sand and Sea
The Lives Words Live
When Hypermedia Exceeds The Hyperbole
3 on Anatomy

Then imagine their worlds, and send us your interpretation/description for what might be a good illustration for a particular haiku between now and end-November 2017. If you wish to send us a rough sketch as well, please do so. If we decide to use your contribution, we will acknowledge you as an idea contributor on the page that contains the illustration, and send you a free electronic copy of the book when it finally gets published (whenever that happens!). You can send your imaginings by way of the comment section below, or by emailing sandstarsjournal@gmail.com. 🙂

— SSJ, 24 September 2017

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2 while waiting


screen capture of poetry in progress on my mobile phone in a time of waiting. © SSJ 2015

the times we wait

everyone of us
at one time or another
has waited for something
big and small happy or sad
a long time coming
or just around the bend
a beginning or an end
and what we do in those anxious
moments of waiting
can sometimes be more precious
than the awaited something

© SSJ 2017

Author’s note: 

The photo above is a screen capture of poetry in progress on my mobile phone while waiting in a mall. The background image was captured by a second mobile phone and re-inserted on the original phone as backdrop for the foreground text, which is a revision of the initial poetry in the background. Some days, I can go on and on like this quietly in a corner until the battery runs low and the waiting draws nigh.      

–  SSJ, 16 September 2017

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Image is a mashup from the images of Comfreak and Josch13 @ Pixabay.com 


The electric circuitry paces
An environmental complex even as
The swinging of one’s cradle
Accelerates to and fro
And to and fro:
Finally dislodges me.

Acquiring media as extension
Of my biped humanity,
Transcends uneventfully circles
Of this child’s primitive skin,
I race now with
A throwaway evolution,
My feet rhyming with its
Changing bowels,
Basic for linkages I must
Establish and culture about
In the order of a mask across
My face and a self
Protean throughout.

My scientific self takes
A directed stand,
Efficient it seems
As money,
Sadly lacks the transience though
Of existing conditions
And of those too that will be.
Circumstances mold my social self
Into a machine: I am
Limited to the twitches and twirls
Of my screws.

Around the clock thus with not
A shoe for the racetrack
To bear me through,
Might as well just stiffen when some
Circuitry inside me
Eventually snaps.

© SSJ 1976

Author’s Note:  Celebrating one year of blogging at WordPress.com with a rising crescendo

What is a poet lost in the tortuous world of electrical engineering going to do with all those wiring, electricity and circuit diagrams he gets entangled with day in and day out? Write a poem about them, of course!

‘Circuitry’ is part of an untitled collection of poems written in the period 1975-1976, when the author was pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. The collection was published in the 21 August 1976 issue of the now-defunct Focus Philippines Magazine, one of the very few national magazines that kept lit the flickering flames of literary publishing in the Philippines during the country’s Marcosian martial law years.

The Focus Philippines Magazine was founded and edited by an intense and prolific writer Kerima Polotan-Tuvera (1925-2011), who was also journalist, teacher, mother and grandmother, not only to kin & family, but more significantly, to many aspiring young Filipino writers of the 70s and 80s.

Ms. Kerima probably took notice of this author’s writings when they were first being posted to her Manila office (via snail mail) from the far-flung southern town of Jolo, Sulu that was her birthplace. This was around the time (1974) when most of Jolo was razed to the ground in the midst of a brutal secessionist war in Southern Mindanao.

Over the course of about 8 years from 1974 to the early 1980s, Ms. Kerima and her editors looked favorably at some of this writer’s poetry and short story submittals to Focus Philippines, and gave them generous space in the magazine. Ms. Kerima probably valued that these writings somehow survived the ferocious flames of Jolo, found their way to the refugee communities of Zamboanga City, and were now coming from the cold dungeons of college dormitory rooms and labyrinthine laboratories of the country’s premier state university. During these years, she and her editors coaxed this writer to overcome his southern feeling of non-belonging and unease in the more cosmopolitan intricacies of northern Metro Manila, and to come out of his dungeon by way of a couple of poetry recognition awards and invitations to writers’ workshops, all of which this harrowed soul could not bring himself to attend. More for fear of failing his electrical engineering courses, he’d like to think of that now in hindsight, than a refusal to belong. Somehow, the world of electrical engineering got the better of this writer’s anguish: instead of emerging to the fanciful world of writing, this writer proceeded to also complete his master’s degree in electrical engineering with a thesis on computer-based optimal distribution substation and primary feeder planning.

All that is now history, so to speak.

One year (by 17 September 2017) into this homesteading and blogging at WordPress.com, this blogger remains part-time writer, and full-time wiring of nerves, and circuits of red & gray matters. There still remains a lot to be gathered here, both old and new writings; more expressions of gratitude for the growing number of fellow bloggers and readers following this blog; and yes, not to forget, a thank you note to WordPress.com for its free plan offerings throughout this period,  with a premium plan in the offing hopefully.

This is Said Sadain, Jr., saying thank you to everyone for a year of blogging with me.  ‘Might as well just stiffen when some circuitry inside me eventually snaps, but I hope it will all be worthwhile.  🙂

— SSJ, 9 September 2017 


Image is a mashup from the images of Comfreak and Bergadder @ Pixabay.com

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Steel Structures by the Bay of the Garden City-State


Steel dome covering of the cloud forest, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Singapore may be small in size compared to its neighboring countries in South East Asia, but it is BIG in structures. Not just bigly 😉 We mean REALLY HUGE! I refer here to the Gardens by the Bay, a project of the National Parks Board of Singapore. The Board seems to have pulled out all the stops developing this project in its push to portray the city-state as THE Garden City of the world.

I am extra fascinated with this project because of its imaginative blending of massive steelwork with nature and the environment. Coming from the steel-building industry myself, I can fully appreciate that manufacturing the steel curves and beams, and erecting the structures are no mean feat by themselves.

The Gardens by the Bay is a botanical environment sprawled over more than 50 hectares of reclaimed land in the Marina Bay of the city-state. It consists of two giant steel domes covering cooled conservatories, and about eighteen Supertrees that serve as vertical gardens. One dome, called the Flower Dome, houses a variety of plants from the Mediterranean regions, while the other dome contains the Cloud Forest for plants from the Tropical monsoon regions. And the flowers, oh the flowers! It is a pity that I can only include here a few photos of them.

We hope you enjoy viewing the photos in this post, all courtesy of dear daughters Anisa and Aziza. Also, below is a YouTube video from the Gardens lead designer, Grant Associates, neatly summing up the undertaking in a slick presentation (please view in high definition, as much as possible).

– SSJ, 3 Sep. 2017


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