An Open Letter to University Freshmen

30 04 2016

Dear Freshmen,
When you meet someone you don’t know in the corridor
and you are both waiting for the same class,
Introduce yourself.
At least, when you enter the tutorial,
you’ll have a new friend to sit with.

Dear Freshmen,
If you don’t find your life partner at freshman orientation,
it’s okay.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t going to.
And if you are jealous of the other freshmen,
the ones that got together right after camp,
just remember: people break up.
Just because there is a goalkeeper
doesn’t mean you cannot score.
Just don’t be too vindictive about it.

Dear Freshmen,
Don’t ask me which classes are easy,
or which lecturers are lenient
or which classes don’t have exams.
If you wanted something easy,
you should not have come here.

Dear Freshmen,
Don’t plan your classes so you can
go clubbing Thursday nights
still be in class on Friday afternoons.
It’s not worth it.
Trust me.

Dear Freshmen,
Don’t take year four classes thinking you can prove yourself
Don’t take year four classes because it fits your schedule
Don’t take year four classes because they are interesting
Don’t take year four classes. Period.
Or at least until you are year four.
May be not even then.

Dear Freshmen,
Don’t abandon group projects. Ever.

Dear Freshmen,
Don’t post angry activist rants on your facebook,
you probably don’t understand the whole story.
Dear Freshmen,
Don’t post anonymous angry rants on facebook
unless you want to be tracked down
and humiliated on the social media of your choice.

And while we are on that:
Dear Freshmen,
Just because you are smart and opinionated,
doesn’t always mean you have smart opinions.

Dear Freshmen,
Taking one engineering class does not make you an engineer.
Taking one computing class does not make you a hacker.
Taking one theatre class does not make you “cultured”.
Taking one psych class does not mean you can “read” me.
Stop trying to read me

Dear Freshmen,
Don’t take freshman year so seriously,
Hold the door open for someone.
Smile because
there will always be someone more stressed than you.
Don’t worry about what you wear,
no one is going to care anyways.
When you meet someone you don’t know in the corridor
and you are both waiting for the same class.
Introduce yourself.
At least, when you enter the tutorial,
you’ll have a new friend to sit with.
It makes everything alil less scary.

Creative Commons License
This work by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Two Sisters

30 04 2016

Once, there were two sisters: Tradition and Technology. Tradition was quiet and patient; her beauty was subtle enough to be ignored. Technology, on the other hand, was outgoing and exciting; she was known to be everyone’s best friend.

I visit the sisters often in their quaint HDB 3 bedroom apartment. Their living room is an interesting mix of wooden furniture housing up-to-date appliances, neon-coloured cushions Tradition made on the ratan sofa frame that Technology helped pick out. They always served me funky fruit teas in chipped porcelain cups.

Sometimes Technology gets called out for an event. She picks up the house phone, the one that attaches to the wall, with the long chord springing to life. She speaks enthusiastically, says ‘We’ll be there’, hangs up and rushes to her sister’s side to tell her all about the party. I watch her try to convince Tradition to come out for a night, just one night. She can borrow her clothes, her shoes, and they will never be out of each other’s sight but Tradition merely shakes her head. She kisses Technology’s cheek, wishes her a fun time and reminds her that she will leave the light on.

Technology hesitates before leaving, lingering at the door, commenting on how the new trendy heels she bought are too complicated to put on. Tradition offers her pair of flats knowing that her sister will never accept the offer. Technology promises she won’t be home late and disappears from the doorway.

Tradition puts her cup down and smiles softly at me. She apologises for her sister’s abrupt exit but I tell her to think nothing of it. She goes to the kitchen to make more tea, while mine is still steaming.

Creative Commons License
Two Sisters by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


30 04 2016


Hold on

Hang tight

Sit patiently


Look on

Be ready



Plan more

Consider all

Be excited


Wide eyes

Racing heart

Adrenalin rushing






Creative Commons License
Untitled by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Love is not enough

29 01 2015

in thanks to my cousin, Carmel Phillips

What does it mean when he says he loves you
but does not trust himself not to hurt you?

I never thought I could go to her with this question
but she gave me the best answer anyone could.

Last night, in your drunken state of mind
you held me tightly, barely awake

Answering questions I don’t remember asking.
The next morning you told me that I can’t hold

A drunk to his words. Her answer was simple.
Her answer was ‘Love is not enough’

It is not an isolated entity. It is a lame word
the false pillar for lazy people to

Lean against in the bad times because
they do not want to be alone at night.

He called it love, but it is not a magic word
and with the wave of a wand will everything

Be perfect and magical and wonderful.
There is no abracadabra

It is four letters. It is the most overused word
in the world, regardless of language; love

Ti amo, cinta, laska, te ahora, pag-ibig
we’ve heard it all before.

Hey sooner we realise, we cover ourselves with lies
well underneath we’re not so tough, oh love it’s not enough

Love comes with values you share, with
goals you should work towards, with

Beliefs you are in agreement with,
His actions have to match the content

Of his speech.  So when he said that
I couldn’t hold a drunk to his words

What he really meant was that
I shouldn’t hold him accountable

for what he had said to me
the night before.

That he loved me, but did not trust himself
not to hurt me. It was his escape route.

So she is right.
Any old fool could fall in love.

But a wise man knows that
respect, commitment, faith and dignity

Are the real supporting pillars to the
heart-shaped coliseum we build for ourselves.


28 01 2015

It is only here
at the end of the world

where we will drink
to renew the bond made

in confined black rooms;
now at edges of large water bodies,

we mock the universe
and its possibilities but

soon we sail off
to our own corners;

tonight will keep
the same blood in our veins.


How to greet death

28 01 2015

Give Death your hand
Let him lift you to your feet
Wrap his arm around your waist
And take your breath away.

Chain yourself with tubes
attached to machines
that have more life than you
and the plug permanently fixed to the socket;
Death will still have the stronger grip.



28 01 2015

In loving memory of Albert Edmund Phillips
For my cousins. 

May be it’s because
we told him
that he is the only one
that will carry
the family name.

That’s why he
walks big
talks big
acts big
for the runt of the family.

May be it’s because
the other son
takes his father’s name,
the last one
on that side too.

That’s why he
his marriage proposal.

May be it’s because
the other nine were successful
taking feminism in one hand
and tossing it aside,
knowing we were born equal.

That’s why we
our last name.

May be it’s because
there is no way
we will let this
2 syllable,
8 letter honour

That’s why we
with all our souls

every time there is eleven at the table.