A Flick Through

A book in one flick through
Is glanced but hardly read;
By when we’ve got a clue,
The back page slams like lead
And kicks up bits of dust.
Still, dust to dust returns,
As everything else must;
So what is it we’ve learnt?


Colin Lee


Upon dVerse’s Quadrille #44, whereby the current 44-word poetry series teasingly “kicks” the bucket with its 44th prompt (or not, we’ll see!), I somehow cannot resist the urge to kick up a dust about life’s inevitable.

Photo Courtesy: robdose.com.au

39 thoughts on “A Flick Through

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  1. “the back page slams like lead” – what a brilliant line – exactly how it feels sometimes to end an enjoyable read. Clever use of ‘kick’ too

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t it? Nowadays, literary fossils are up for grabs on public domain, and everyone can be their own publisher. The availability of electronic knowledge has made even this young Chinese guy who speaks English as a second language a poet of some sort. And I wonder … what if one day our memories can be digitised and downloaded like ebooks?

      Anyway, thanks for reading, Frank!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think we might be able to digitize as a movie our brain patterns and store them as they are happening. I think that is possible for dreams now, but I am not sure how useful it is at the moment. I don’t think the memories themselves are in our brain but only passing through our brains. We have to get them while we are experiencing them. But it would be an interesting way to record what we have been thinking about.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. 🙂 Maybe I’m not yet halfway through the book, but the remaining pages do slip through my fingers quicker and quicker, which makes me wonder what I’ll make of it when the back cover slams down. Hm.


  2. Love the rhyme in this….and the use of the word. Most especially these lines
    “The back page slams like lead
    And kicks up bits of dust.”
    So the question is about the dust — dust from the ancient pages of that old tome? Or the dust from matter stimulated within our minds at the conclusion of the reading?
    Enjoyed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Lillian. The first one was what I had in mind — a small cloud of dust raised by the slamming of the old book’s leather back cover, while I imagine at the end of my days I’ll kick up a last bit of dust at my farewell party somewhat like that. Later on, as the dust settles, my ashes scattered, dust still returns to dust, like a dusty old book shoved back into its dusty shelf. Then, my question is … what have I glimpsed in this flick-through life that is of meaning — and meaning upon and beyond the closing of this “book”? Is it all dust and ashes, like pages flashing before our eyes for a moment and forever gone the next? Or is it more?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Loving your words here. Do participate in today’s Poetics – I’m hosting. Given your thoughts here, see my poem for it — and you will love the photos for the prompt ❤️. Looking forward to seeing your post!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So good. To begin with, I couldn’t help scanning the titles on that fascinating book shelf–it’s a disease I have. This made me think of something I learned as a docent at our Museum of Art–the average viewer of museum of art spends only 10 seconds looking at a piece of art. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, ma’am. That’s a great “disease” you have. 10 seconds? I’m sure the median would be even lower than the average — consider how the multitude of us Chinese tourists swarm in and out of museums for little more than a photo check-in and restroom visit. Well, yes, it’s a shame.


    1. I agree with you, Grace, especially for a person based in space-deficient Hong Kong. Coming back to my metaphor, however, it makes me wonder how we now live much of our lives in the virtual: It’s more organised and controlled, less emotionally messy, and much, much more convenient; but, when it comes to our final chapter, doesn’t this withdrawal from tete-a-tete connections and never having to roll up our sleeves also deprive us the chance to leave tangible fingerprints on the dust of this earth — just like another inactive Facebook friend?


  4. “So what is it we’ve learnt?” It does seem futile that after all the efforts people exert to learn and be the best at things, everything goes back to dust. Maybe, the beauty lies in the learning and becoming before his time is done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Imelda. When the book is closed, the concluding knell does sound like “vanity of vanities; all is vanity”. Perhaps this lifelong pondering is part of that very learning and becoming; a book that writes itself as it’s being read. Where am I heading? Why am I here? What am I leaving behind? These questions about the end page and how we look at it dictate how the present page should be written or read. True, the book will close and the dust will set, and our existence might seem insignificant and unnoticeable; but, if we are living for a greater purpose beyond our own, with the hope that it will live on after us, then there’s that something in our soul or conscience at this temporal present we can hold onto as we exist. But then there are also some who believe in predestination — that the book is written and final, that we are merely reading, observing. So, as I said, it’s how we look at the end dictates how we view the present. I think a better summary should take it from Robin William’s carpe diem speech in Dead Poets Society. What would you think?


      1. I know your poem is rich with meaning – I think that is one of the qualities I admire about your work 🙂 I belong to the first group you mentioned. Our existence, no matter how tedious it can be, has a greater purpose, a purpose which goes beyond the finiteness of this world. As for the Robin Williams speech – oh! sigh – I loved that movie when it was shown, cried with the youth in the film, applauded RW. Alas! I can no longer remember the exact words. Carpe Diem is all that stuck with me. Or, perhaps, it is what you mean, right? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks again on that compliment. It’s hard to find that sweet spot that carries both the weight of meaning and power of delivery, and such maturity and shrewdness are qualities I must learn from you, Imelda.

        I’m with you on the other note. After all, the Dead Poets was one of the inspirations that led me to poetry. Coincidentally, it was released at a time of persecution (look up the release date and you’ll see), when aspiring youths were trampled to make way for stability of vested interest. And now that fate is only more intertwined with my generation (who are subjects to that establishment) than with my father’s (who were distant sympathisers). While I can’t say what I wish to say, I suppose a nod’s as good as a wink, with the rest of it manifested through my poetry. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ha! first, let me thank you for your quite generous compliment. To put things in perspective, maturity and shrewdness perhaps comes with age or should come with age that one is more likely to lament the lack of maturity than to celebrate its presence in one as old as I am. 🙂

        1989 – I was in the law school library when I read the news. It was heartbreaking and, given that perspective, I can see how Dead Poets’ Society was especially significant for your generation. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “… more likely to lament the lack of maturity than to celebrate its presence” — Imelda, your sense of humour doesn’t come with any warning! lol Well, since you can’t be older than my parents, I should see you as a big sister of my youthful generation’s. 😉


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