Sunday, June 10, 2007

train out of surabaya

Breathing in the whirling air of Surabaya toxic, and deeply,
thinking always of good bye to you
one month to go and counting down:
See the crowded shack alleys, kaki limas and a lantern (1)
boys and girls strolling at Marghrib not yet thinking (1a)
how few words one needs to say good bye and be gone
yet how many words mill at the gates
like workers hearing word sepakatnya nol (1)
three moments after leaving you standing.

Bojonegoro, Pati, Semarang and Cirebon (2)
if you have any words for me
send them in nightmares that stink of your industry
I don’t have to give in, capital cannot win
flying by you in the monotony of a railroad night
face faced into wind remembering the joy
Aku lelah. (3)

Kites flourish in ‘Boyo (4)
despite tin roofs, oppression and sewage sawah (5)
kites do not discourage
demikian sejarah bangsa dalam masa jenuh
laut adalah kita, saya dan kamu aku tahu (6)
but let me protest our separation for now
and then let me mourn.

O padi Jawa di belakang favela favela sengsara (7)
hear me!
In your glimmerless night hear me
who is not a stranger.

1. kaki lima: "five feet," a small food cart
1a. marghrib: in islam, the fourth prayer of the day, in early evening
1. sepakatnya nol: the agreement is zero, or null
2. names of cities in Java
3. I am tired
4. short for Surabaya
5. sawah: field, referring to ponds of sewage
6. such is the history of a people in times of frustration
the sea is us, I and you I know
7. Oh paddies of Java behind miserable favelas

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