survivor’s remorse, guilt city
(after wiji thukul, tr. eliza vitri handayani)
a knocking-on-clavicle rage, my
concrete block of shame wrangles day round the neck with poems
that say outright what they aren’t:
unmarred by innocence, they’re
hunters with nothing to ask, made of jinn-hints that settle in the dark,
spinning me thin as, ecstatic, they
burn in their own pile of sweat,
not stopping ’til my mouth gasps shut, they
are force of bloodied reminder, push
to cradle one
body’s history in another
set of rules, to
belabor in a school made of year-bricks, to get
at the massacre we’re born upon, as poets whisper on newly-made skins, ‘you got out’.
*Poet’s note: Wiji Thukul is an Indonesian poet-activist who disappeared in 1998. This poem is in a form called the golden shovel, created by Terrance Hayes, and is based on Wiji Thukul’s verse, as translated by Eliza Vitri Handayani: ‘My poems aren’t poetry / They’re dark words, they sweat / They push one another to get out’.
Winged creatures dazzle night sky,
illuminated Japanese sea crabs,
leg spans four metres wide,
in flight and oceanless.
This is my dream of kiamat,
Muslim school-educated endtimes—
the earth expels its bowels,
frantically, rings of volcanoes
shudder their violent excrement, holy fire,
onto the earth so ash clouds
may cool it. Darling oh darling, we say
to each other, Oh sweetling, oh
may it all be enough to stop this boil.
Furious marine life steps out of
roiling maritime, flies flung-out into the air,
stratosphere deluged with the last
of blue whales, the pockmarked grey of
coral reefs’ corpses, rickety flotsam,
gone in such few years by Earth’s watch.
All of the sentient sea is airborne,
haloed in a whitish-blue, luminaries.
I will hold up your hand and wave it
to the cephalopods, changing colour
as they hit the smokestacks’ fury of ash,
their arms swathed deep in cerulean glow.
I wish, you’ll whisper, and one will point
two tentacles out towards you as if to say—