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 🙂

— 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 @ 


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 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, 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 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 @

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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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today i was told:
shampoo is okay to use,
conditioner not.

graven inamorata
half-sung by runt and his duck.

© SSJ 2017

Author’s Note:

News headlines these days are depressing, among other things: about the devastating deluge in swaths of Texas, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, that boy king deeply enamored of his deadly toys, firing a test missile again, and this time, provocatively over northern Japan’s Hokkaido. It gives us little consolation that technology already exists for interceptor missiles that can shoot down ballistic missiles before they reach their targets. Even the prayerful wise words of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata cannot be sobering enough at a time when the scenario of powerful mad men with their fingers on the buttons of nuclear weapon launchers is now more real than ever before, powerful mad men whose inamorata would probably be something like this:

…go violently amid the calm and rest,
and remember what distress there may be in discord.
beyond the impossible do not surrender
be on worst terms with all persons.
speak your lies loudly and darkly;
and turn away the others,
even the bright and the literate;
they won’t have their story…

(with apologies to Max Ehrmann and to everyone who loves his Desiderata)


 SSJ, 31 August 2017  



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the lives words live

a handful of words
conjures imagination
stirs a world to life.

© SSJ 2017

Author’s Note:

Peculiar 5-7-5s And Other Imaginings

A haiku or a senryu, or less formally, a poem with a 5-7-5 syllabic construct, while being thrifty with its words and concise with its syllables, is a fine example of how even just a few words can be powerful enough to create worlds that are limited only by our imagination.

In a still-in-the-making book of some of my 5-7-5 constructs, I have set out to show some of these worlds in colored illustrations drawn by an artist designer who also happens to be my son, Zee 🙂  We’re actually both busy on other endeavors as well, so this collaboration may take a while to complete.

But we will aim for the resulting pages — when they do finally see the light of day — to be powerful enough to inspire in our readers the imagining of more worlds and to explore the varied peculiar lives that words live. Please stay with us for more updates on this collaboration, with sneak peeks into some of the in-process or completed pages as we go along.

And yes, finally, Twitter has won me over! You can follow my tweets at @ToBeSaidInBytes  — not that they are life-changing or anything close to that, just that they are … my tweets.  🙂

SSJ, 25 Aug. 2017  


image mash-up of Periodic Table of Elements and Skitterphoto’s quack table @

Posted in about me, book, haiku, poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments