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(1986-1996)

Falling Caterpillars

falling caterpillars
are failed ascetics, unable
to become cocoons then butterflies,
because they were tempted by green buds
on other parts of the tree

even hungry children fishing
cannot use caterpillars for worms,
when caught in traps they do not turn into fish,
even eels or catfish won’t eat them

you were the small child
watching the river bank,
who sailed on a raft
to the other side,
to collect and bury
the bodies
of the wretched caterpillars

no one ever visited
their graves, but you
felt happy, because
you hoped the caterpillars
might learn something
from your compassion.

Yogya, 1992

 

The Orchestra of the Leaves

 

i heard the distant whispering of the falling leaves,
picked by the wounds of the sun in the season of death.
and i heard the painful scream of the leaves rotting
on the wet earth. a new world rose up,
a party for the worms and maggots.
-- the music is endless,
the wound sings in my dreams.

1987

 

The Orchestra of the Train Stations

 

i wanted to be alone. forever.
to breathe out boredom
to wait, to watch the leaves fall,
to capture the pale, distant
shadows

i wanted to be alone and watch you
sleep in my wound
before i hear the clock
tell you it is time to go.

1987

 

Endless Songs 

 

Ipickedup theflowers youthrew
onto the rubbish, their fragrance
sweetened my dreams and waking hours

then Iput them into a black vase
shaped like your wound

and left them alone in a corner of the bedroom
to remind me of the colours redandwhite,
roses and jasmines, love
and betrayal

their fragrance never left me

Ipickedup theflowers youthrew
onto the rubbish, their fragrance
scattered seeds in my heart.
I will bewitch the buds
and grow me a garden

1987

 

Muffled Song  

 

inside the box
i cannot hear you complain.
there is only an endless
bed.
a window that never shows
the day.
but when we are not asleep,
the journey to silence
is almost finished.

when we wake
the walls
divide our dreams.
-- your distant gaze
separates the world
from what we remember.

1987

 

Song of the Beloved

                                                             

you were lost in the land of my love. snakes
wriggled and hissed. looked at me
as though i were a rabbit they could eat.
feel how warm my frightened body is.
but they wrapped themselves around you
and held you tightly. without
desire.

the wind will scatter its poison
which is as fragrant as a blossom,
to each corner of your soul.
and bury itself in your blood.
the warmth will turn into a volcano
and bury the world in disaster.

Semarang, 1990

 

A Song of Loss

 

because the curtain was open.
and your face dim
in the rain on the window.
in the years which spread
across the calendar: centuries
fell to the floor.

(and the painting
climbed back onto the wall.
bringing the smell of earth
which slipped away
from the rain’s embrace.)

i can smell your bitter breath
darkening the glass
on the picture. the faces
vanished. how brief
our lives are.

1987

 

Concert on a Dead End Road

i entered one lane after another

in the anxious picture which hung
in my bedroom. wanting to sleep:
i built a lonely city separated
from the snare of your photograph album,
the past folded between the pages of a book.
brief happiness caged by the dew on the leaves
far beyond the room.

i entered one lane after another, one wound
after another, one dream after another,
one sleep after another, in Your breath,
on Your arm, in the hollow of Your mouth.
growing smaller, in the dark. narrower. happiness
in the brief life of a drop of dew on a leaf,
far beyond the room.

1987

 

Wedding Orchestra

 

for you, a wet bed on the ground, and leaves
which suddenly fell. there was no need
to open the curtains, some things
don’t last long.

for you, a picture of a rose (with happy
maggots and worms)

come into my trap. the picture
of an open window: gazing out
at the world. a mirror on the wall:
reflecting the soul of the whole world.

come in, before it blends forever
into the calendar on the wall – life,
bent over, dropped
to the floor.

1988

 

Rainy Season Orchestra 

 

i released the bird i caught:
it flew off into the rain
leaving wounds on the window.
i released the bird
i caught.

in the wastelands of my dreams
there are no more branches, the leaves
have fallen to the ground. the grass
is paint in a picture. the rain
marks the journey. leaving the bed,
a bird cage, and the smell of perfume
in my room.

i release the bird. it flies
into the rain – the season remains,
forever, in the painting
on my bed room wall.

1988

 

L A N D S C A P E

 

Faith in Mid-Life

 

the sentences you spoke
fall onto my prayer-mat,
they are the song
i mumble.

the sky whirls as it prays.
looks up at the rain, scattering
texts no one ever reads.

i can never find the end
of my mumbled prayers.
no candles burn
in the unlit room. psalms
echo in the room of my dreams,
fly in my restless sleep.
and barely audible sermons
scatter from lonely mouths.

have you rung your bell? my prayer
has no end

1992

 

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