Translated from the Burmese by Zeyar Lynn

 

You & I sit on a bench that goes nowhere
We stare at the wall
If we can afford the agent fee, we can go to Malaysia, Korea, Dubai, Saudi
Gotta do what we gotta do
Blood circulation is no entertainment
Like ice cream in green tea
Like winning an eye from a mosquito coil, lucky draw
Dig your own well & drink your own limestone water
Must be fate that gave you a life well demarcated to an inch
In a brand new satellite town far away from the city centre
The sun goes out in the morning, returns in the evening, as is its nature
What courses have you attended in plastic standard time? What certificates?
Roadside bowl of boiled beef guts
made in japan Chinese wristwatch
There’s a war going on in Afghanistan
There’s an election going on in Afghanistan
The singer sings, the player plays, the dancer dances, I am a mason
What shall I do? Is it inappropriate to express my feelings?
Family well sinks lower & lower but not to worry keep my chin up
Yo bro, we both live in a brand new satellite town
You got bus fare? Let’s go occupy the city for a few hours
We must be poetry because we have no utilitarian value
So dumb we don’t know how to generate electricity by blocking an artery
Ecology of ethics too is warming up, my friend
Construction worker? Corpse cleaner? Singapore? Japan?
Do I have the heart to drink a glass of cool Coke?
Have to learn, get an education, increase knowledge, & so on & so forth
Hey, look. One comes out of the interview room. Hand gestures failure
What about me? Can I afford to pay tea money?
Is that guy’s pocket fatter than mine?
I look at my docile hands that know nothing else
Sing dollar? Malay ringgit? Thai baht? Japanese yen?
Burmese kyats & pyas?
The stench of the cubicle in the unclean public toilet
Life is so wholesome I say & wait for my name to be called out
You & I we sit face-to-face on a train
Our duty is to change the scenery by turns
In order to go out, I soak my value in water to soften it
If wife were to ask where I had been the whole day
& I replied, ‘Nowhere,’ would she believe me?
The world has become flat, they say
We are round objects precisely timed.

 

 

Photograph © Cory Brown

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