under the fly-over: a policeman sits cross-legged on a thin bench balanced by two boys playing cards at the other end. sometimes, patience is just a game you play while you wait. and wait. then the black river starts. little ships of plastic aqua glasses float fast—all the captains had jumped the lifeboats—on its surface. the ripped blue plastic lids stick out like broken sails. a woman steps into the heavy rain, the water falling like cold pebbles, lifts her batik sarong, and puts one foot in the rushing black water. an aqua ship hits her instep. she lets it run around her ankle like a reconnoitring pirate ship. a cendol man opens a tweed-patterned parasol and puts it over, not his head, but his clay cendol jar. big sweats of rain already on its brown-black surface. no, the rain doesn’t fall, it blows horizontally and hits your face like a cavalry of angry trains. and the smell of dead chickens, dried fish and rotting vegetables, picked at 3 a.m. this morning, floats up to the grunts of slowing cars on wet asphalt above.

there’s a hole in the sky and it keeps getting bigger

it’s like this:

  • outside
  • drizzle
  • pavement
  • a family of seasonal scavengers
  • lebaran
  • aqua glasses
  • a balita girl in a peasant dress
  • a conduit for the electricity of the earth
  • a brown plastic makeshift roof
  • the cart
  • the traffic
  • a sick-looking grey tree
  • the storm

Speed of Lite

but i stop, my hands clasped tight on the back of a plastic chair, my feet burning criss-cross dunlop pattern into the wet earth, and my mind takes overexposed pictures of a man asleep, or is he dying?, on a kerb with the smell of dead rats and yesterday’s bananas, a girl vomiting just-digested fried noodles, the bok choy leaves still green and the stems paler, a boy pouring zam zam water on a quarter schooner of smirnoff, the newest cocktail for infidels like him. what do you think of the ectoplasm rising out of his wet hair? her mouth shiny from vomit? the dead man’s hand propping up his face? is this spirit photography or photography of? i go and i stop. and i go again. tell me why i always arrive late at the limit of understanding. stop the usher from telling me, go home, there’s no seat left for people who rush only to be on time.

Ideas for Life

i stop.

break the soft stem of the red flowers hanging over the toll road fence.

red looks good on grey.

i drink the juice that drips from the petals.

my hand grey from the dust around the stem.

i move on.

gondoks grow like gothic ruffles on the swamp.

children fish with thin bamboo rods and raffia lines.

couples sit on motorbikes and watch.

all the leaves are green.

the deep green of save the rainforest posters.

i look for a death metaphor.

the black trunks of the mangrove trees.

green moss.

yellow butterflies so pretty.

purple springs of ivy propping up ideas for life.



not the puddle of black water your dunlop volleys fall into, not

the cold wet between your toes for hours after you had forgotten it ever happened, not

the lime green shirt-tail popping out of her olive green pants (everything else was in its right place, even the gradation of black in her hair), not

the pink flowers of eczema on her arms—i tried to outthought them, but they stayed in my head for a little while, not

the pathetic white cotton towel tied around a broken pipe on the men’s urinal, not

the milisecond wait before the sloan automatic tap washed the dirt and sin off your hands, not

the conblocks everywhere under your feet, grey, white, black, the rare red in front of my office, on their surface more pamors than on a sendang sedayu, not

that anyone here would know what i mean by pamor, or sendang sedayu, unless you read him every week, not

the surprise moon over suburban rukos’ rooftops, the way it makes you feel good about being out there still at 9:31 pm on a damp tuesday night, not

the caterpillar of clouds that ran along an invisible branch off the trunk that propped up the moon. not