Poetry of Saut Situmorang

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Indonesia, Song of Red and White

my country where my mother lived and died
giving birth to five deaths, five silent deaths
silence of little babies lying cold on the tears-stained sheet of the bed
all the dreams, all the hopes of a noisy future
cut off and sliced by five angels of death
angels of envy, angels of burning crosses
angels that only dared to scare five little new born babies

my country the land where my mother lived and died
forty eight years of cries and cries
and still more cries, sad and accepting cries
the silent cries that shamed the bright blue sky
that shamed the sun and moon of the tropical sky
that shamed the great ancient tree of life
in the old square of the distant village
village of childhood, of a little girl too generous
for the arrogant world, the world of big-headed nonsense men
forty eight years of praying in the middle
of the nights, frightening nights of ancestors’ ghosts
and a drunkard husband
long lonely nights of a little county girl
lost in the labyrinth of big cities’ cheats and deceptions

my country
the country of deep blue sea, deep blue sorrowful sea
the country of burning trees, burning birds, burning monkeys
the rivers dirty and choked like a diseased throat
and the countrymen walk aimlessly and stiff like skinny starved zombies

I cry for you, beloved land where my mother lived and died
land of blood thirsty green dogs roaming the dimly lit city streets
with hot bullets firing each time they bark
each time they howl at the half moon
which will never again become full
they howl and howl and bark and howl
and hot bullets, cursed hot white bullets like rain hitting everything
the sun the moon the stars the fishes in the black rivers
the birds hiding under rotten burnt branches the tigers the elephants
in the burning forests
the skinned snakes hanging from the houses’ roofs
houses of dust in burning cities of dust
air of dust water of dust voices of dust
and thin brown shadows
millions of thin brown shadows
under the evil watchful eye of a mad old general

my county, my mother…

tongue in your ear

there’s a staircase which leads to the roof
where pigeons build their nests
tough enough
to protect
the soft underbelly
made from lace and sinew
hairspray and spit
20 feet above our heads
far away like a boat adrift
like soft tensile wires
plump as an oyster
garlands of feather and bone
navigating by moon and stars
in the hallucinating waters above the hill o death
like Pinocchio
doing kinky things with red tape
for eloquence
on alphabet walls
not greenstone
in a garbage truck
do you read me?

there’s a staircase which leads to the roof
of a house of black windows
where we bury your dirty laundry
so we could say nice things about you
yesterday’s baby
who stopped believing in God
who said, “If God were a drunkard,
I’d have no need to drink!”
come on
there’s a staircase which leads to the roof
where pigeons build their nests
before winter comes
with frosted milk-bottles in the letter box
which my neighbour is carving with a chisel
while saying, “Vinegar was used in B.C. times
as a spermicide – a pessary.
It was sponged on-in,
probably stings a bit!”

there’s a staircase which leads to the roof
where pigeons build their nests
before winter comes
yes, winter will be beautiful this year
with muted television reads
its own lips with an American accent
breathing out long silences
to keep warm
e hoa ma! o friends!
silver bellies are the best eels for drying!
so when the sax player
opens his song
like drinking
we have no choice
we have to follow
the Gringo puppets
to where the pigeons build their nests
when the wind changes
and follows you into the darkness of thoughts
a temple full of snakes
of snake goddess
the pagan goddess of lust
of 13 degrees of blue
the blue of tears, the blue of longing
the jealous blue of green
the blue of the fathoms, the blue of the earth
the blue of love, the blue of mirrors
the blue of nostalgia, the blue of danger
the blue of deceit, the blue of lust
the blue of loss, the blue of death

there’s a staircase which leads to the roof
where the sky becomes more important
where the ghost of someone you used to love
someone you used to say “because of you I’m always alone” to
whispers in Morse
“Look at me now. I’ve come to haunt you!”
Valhalla seems
so far away
like the golf balls
of Japanese businessmen
who are memorizing Zen-English
“Hi, I’m Richard Taylor
and so are you!”

there’s a staircase which leads to the roof
like a metal coathanger
hanging unclothed
sexual pleasure
on empty roads
a leaf falls
is the cruellest day of the week
is heavy
is tailor-made
made of smashed bus-stop glass
old talk
a café
a real job

there’s a staircase which leads to the roof
where two hornbill birds circle the ancient totem pole
where pigeons build their nests
like a Big Mac
by Picasso
come ye o spirits
that tend on mortal thoughts
spirits of a staircase which leads to the roof
roof of silver, glass, birds
of broken butterfly wings
white, black and multicoloured
and steaming like cowpats on frosty Te Puke mornings
come ye o spirits, owners of copyright
of false, immoral, conceited and deceitful Art

I do not accept responsibility for this poem!


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