Translated from the Burmese by ko ko thett


Sabulous blank

A nimbus appeared over the mutton shop
at the bazaar this morning!
People gathered there for a look.
State-of-the-art butcher knives . . . Alas!
I am an aesthetic surgeon,
a specialist in scar revision.
Be it historic wrinkles on a sheet of paper or
words on a skin — etched lines or lined etches.
On a skin that looks like a crumpled paper,
with the help of my friends & neighbors,
I have tormented myself for many years.
What part of me shall I hurl at the
chopping block? & how? Would you like it with a thud?
Suppose Southeast Asia is a chopping block;
from what era shall I be erased?
In what era shall I be placed?
Is it like dodging the Japanese Occupation
in a historic discourse? O . . . weeping cherries!!
Like a stale cheroot, history leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
It smoulders. It smokes day after day. Unforgettable!
Chemotherapy, surgical knife, or a cocktail mixer?
Do you guys know, a thread stretched
to the breaking point will recoil?
Everybody is hiccupping in secret.
An unusually intense interest hic-hics in the throat.
I have heard of throat surgery.
Some throats have been slashed.
Others have been treated to solid bamboo . . .
They must come up with a long list of names one day.
Whose command, whose responsibility, who did what.
I am a patient on a surgical bridge.
No analgesic administered on me so far.
No spreadsheet tells me why I am here.
I don’t want to surrender my body without a fight.
Who hoses the blood down when the bazaar closes for the day?
How March flies suck my immunity!



Each stands up & introduces herself

My name is ‘You make my life lustrous.’
Other notability-nobodies don’t come near me.
As someone who has fallen from grace says,
‘Who’s to blame, if a gold hand touches a leper?’
All through the Dark Ages, I was a fugitive shadow.
Finger counting all the words I know, my fingers get blinded.
They know ‘aero-plane’. They don’t know ‘air-craft’.
We are the earth, the moony earth. That big planet is our dream.
The downtown clock tower seeps with the sounds of royal drum. China.
They have flattened walls in the communal utopia of our ancestors.
No more listing of our errors. No more excuses.
Our errors evolved into nature.
What to fix? How to fix? Who will fix it? Who dares fix it?
The Great War went on for a long time. There are too many things we didn’t know.
We were supposed to die en masse. To die is to be exterminated,
but we have been resurrected, amidst plenty of raw diseases.
Thirsty in the middle of the night, I get out of bed.
I switch the light on & drink a glass of water, ‘Gulp, gulp.’
You are coiling up in bed like a ball of woolly times.
Half-asleep, maybe half-delusional, you whimper,
‘Switch the light off. Switch it off now. What’re you doing?
You don’t want to see the blood.’
Just like switching the reality off, I put the room back into the
darkness & plunge into the sleep of woolly times.
I pat you on your hip to re-Christian myself.
Before the darkness enters my nostrils, with a mouthful of
black water, I try to be poetic, ‘You are my light.’
This must be an earworm. My brain can’t be that good.
I might as well be a byproduct of other people’s conversation.
We start mining for light at that very moment.



Photograph © Rookuzz..


I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness
Terra Nova