Monday, April 24, 2006

two lovers entwined, pass me bye bye bye

the world stops

in the heart of the city

a queen

big ideas throbbing

in her teased quiff

an ex-first

lady in a wheelchair

her words fly

above the head of the crowd

a celebrity activist

her hair wet from patchouli

and sweat

of 11 a.m.

her left leg limping

from a kick

right in the knee

from an army sergeant

when she was twenty-three

she should be in a wheelchair too

but she limps along


on a single crutch

that makes a lake

of black sweat

on the cheap green polyester

under her left arm

people think she's a hero

you can hear them whispering

"i saw her in berlin,

when she had to run away

to the safety

of a first-world country."

other people sit

on imaginary benches

on the side of the street

keeping watch

on a pygmy's idea

of a newsagency

cigarette stall

candy shop

and white crosses

scribbled with slogans

supporting 'unity

in diversity' abandoned

like new gravestones

after burial

after all the rites have been administered

like now

and then i see

a girl

her t-shirt wet

from the monkey rain

five minutes ago

her finger stabbing

the air

in the direction

of her boyfriend

whose hands


look like puppets' hands

and when he shrugs his shoulders

i half-expect

to see two white strings

(to go with the colour of the sky)

move up in the air

that the girlfriend

now scythes

with her little white cross

the boyfriend ducks

and the cross

falls to the ground

as the girlfriend lifts herself


into the car.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

you, and whose army?

The back of my neck hurts like there's an army of red ants stomping their boots on the knuckles of my spine. It feels like they're trying to crush it, the way lady-farmers in batik sarongs stomp up and down the golden hairs of dead paddies to break open the gaping oyster-like pods for their husbands.

But what would come out of the ivory white of my spine? Surely nothing as beautiful or satisfying as the dusty white grains of rice the lady-farmers bring to life with their naked brown feet?

No. The red army is crushing me for no reason. They can't squeeze anything more out of me. They know, life has already squeezed me dry.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


i saw a flower today.

it was white

the only white thing

amongst a batallion of thick

green leaves like bamboo spokes

poking out of the earth

like cannons.

it had six tentacles

(i counted them)

hanging down it like six old chinamen's moustaches

like the ghost orchid in adaptation

except this flower

was no ghost.

it was there

(i saw it)

under the pulomas highway

tiny black dots of grime on its white

like dead stars

unlike anything else

i saw today.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

i'm a jism

find a place on the windowsills

look across the lake

black winter

a crane



it's more dramatic this way



hangs by

its entrails

on a letterbox

raised high from the earth. the red dust.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

north of batavia, south of heaven

i saw a lot of death.

start at the coffee stall

that sold breakfast

of dark brown broth

in a pan

chicken necks

yellow tumeric-y skeletons

of fish

all over rice.

only the rice was alive

steaming like the garbage dump

next to us.

the men ate quickly

'drink! give me drink!'

a man in green AP boots shouted.

he didn't have time to eat.

another man put a chicken neck in his mouth

kept talking to his friend

and little pieces of bone

fell from his mouth

to the wet black asphalt.

everything stank of rotten fish

the sleeves of my tees

the coffee in dirty glasses

the sky.

no time for table manners.

then we got on the boat

at the back we looked some more at the blue sky

reflecting the blue paint of the toilet door

a square hole really

it too painted blue around the edges

to frame the black water underneath

we saw fish


light as crisps


near the surface

it's funny

we live to stay afloat

then we die

then our bodies float

then we didn't have to try.

but tell that to the fish

they spent their whole lives trying to go

under the radar

and now they're dead

no one wants them.

and all this just for starters

one clear morning

at the old fish auction

north of batavia.

Friday, April 07, 2006

god willing, i'm not

i'm going to pulau seribu.

i think i'm going to die.

i hate waters, and boats, and stupid little (sea)men

pointing ahead like statues

of independence war heroes

screaming 'god willing!'

one grey rainy day

i went with these little (sea)men

then the rain turned to squalls

then what looked to me like a cyclone

it rained sideways

it rained trucks

but still the little (sea)men

pointed their index fingers ahead and

'god willing!'

'i see land!'

(please, the only land i'm thinking of now

is the one we left

an hour ago,

can't we just go back?)

so they ran their index fingers

across the sky

and down

into me:

'god willing!'

'we'll take you there!'

but don't get me wrong

i like nature

that's why i nearly drowned once

new year's eve 1993

bondi beach

i wished i could've just stayed floating

in the warm seawater all night

that night

like a forgotten lifebuoy

instead of standing with a wet towel on my neck

at the abandoned bus stop

watching girls kissing

strangers and feeling

so estranged. so strange

to be around fun and not feeling any of it.

that was after a rip

pulled the sand from under my feet

and the bondi hotel

my chosen landmark for its venetian


away way to the right

and i tiptoed

in mid-air

under water

'god damn!'


my uncle had once told me

swim sideways

don't try to get back to the safety of the land

god favours the sea

over you.

wait for the right current

and ride it

let it

save you.

so i did.

and i was saved

and let go

to enjoy

soggy fish & chips

which i left


on the concrete fence where i sat

looking at the spot

where i almost died.


i even went to the outback

one winter

the cold red earth burned the soles of my feet in the morning

and you could never take a dump in peace

but i remember one afternoon

when i sat alone

next to a river where we'd set up camp

next to the tripod

and last night's dinner

hanging off it

everyone else had gone for a walk

so there was just me

sitting there


the only thing moving was the brown water

like a great, slow, giant, snake.

just i, alone.

suddenly i saw the point

of dot paintings

realism has no place

in a landscape

so unreal as this.

silence buzzed.

the sky screamed.

so blue!

the green gum leaves

blew blue smoke

like a protection spell

around the land.

and i quote:

15 July 2003 - Fourth day

'The fences ran through the land like arteries. They're signs of man, of life unwanted by the land. Like human arteries, do they give life or feed off it? Barbed wire fence, electric fence, thin garroting metallic fence: seeing them makes me nervous."


it's man that makes me


Thursday, April 06, 2006

angry management

you can't post when you're angry.

or can you?

sometimes anger is good management.

the things you want to do


the things you have to do


the things you're doing


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

mr. kerouac said never think

that would be like homer opening his eyes to see who's there. who's listening? no that's not the way a story is told. like in the natural when he keeps driving his car even when his girlfriend tells him to stop and he won't because when he stops he'll think about things and then he won't be able to think about anything, or feel anything, you know, smell the roses and the dung and the dharma bums, and he just drives on and on until he sees a lake and then he stops the car but he doesn't stop moving, he just keeps running dragging his girlfriend by the arm, his hand hot on her wrist running towards the lake, silvery from the young moon that hangs in the sky like a hairpin, you see i could tell you where i stole that from but that would be interrupting the story, but so is this digression but that's the way a story is told, by digressing, so be it, and they just run and run around the silvery lake until the silveriness catches on to their pale ankles and for a moment they just fly. on silvery, winged feet. like angels.

jack kerouac" rel="tag">jack kerouac

Monday, April 03, 2006

what is short, and funny, and bright as a button?

life, you said.



life" rel="tag">life

i need crutches for my ego

this is it.

this is the old artery of the city.

or the artery of the old city.

whichever way you look at it

it's clogged.

used books like bricks.

old storefronts for new businesses.


like, really booming.

or is it really?

magnificence of supply

doesn't always mean

super-duper demand.

what am i talking about?

kwitang, at 4.37 pm.

interfaith dialogue

in action:

gunung agung - wali songo - gunung mulia

a 'torn dollar bills bought' makeshift stall -

(really, just a man sitting next to a sign

made of corrugated iron

his bum bag hanging on its back)

a man on crutches walking slowly

very slowly

i could't bear to watch -


sometimes i don't know why i live in this place

sometimes i think:

i have ruined my life.

but then i get an afternoon like this

the sky was blue

thin cigarette smokes

of clouds in the corner

bright sun

like a halogen lamp

turned on too early

and nothing

that could make me sad.

i walked past the man on crutches

he was old

maybe he's a 'character'

from around here

or maybe i'm just thinking that

because i didn't want anything to make me sad.

or because i was too happy

i was only thinking happy thoughts

of me in this big city

and finding my place in it.

i walked into bpk gunung mulia

upstairs into the sunday school section

and grabbed all the little house

books i could find.

ten of them.

there are eleven in the series.

'one is still in the printers,' the cashier said.

'oh, okay.'

10 out of 11 ain't bad.

i should count myself lucky.

i walked down the blue-carpeted stairs

stains of man on the silver railings

perfect fingerprints


and i saw the sign

70% off

great combination of numbers and letters

the greatest idea of man

and of course i went

and found

the last one

the last copy

marked down

yellowing on the margin

the eleventh of the 11

books i wanted.

i am lucky.

i am happy.

i am.

i walked out.

the sun was still shining

the sky was still blue

more clouds, more like cotton candy

but hey,

you can't have everything.

i walked down the street

looking for a taxi

and i saw

the old man on crutches


gathering strength

50 metres from where i saw him last.

jakarta" rel="tag">jakarta