five from Museum Penghancur Dokumen / Document Shredding MuseumBy Afrizal Malna, translated by Daniel Owen
It's a shame this poem's already been erased when
I go to read it. Like humid air that tugs
at my arm to catch what will fall, is
falling, and falls. What's up with erasing? Glue,
scissors, yarn, make a shadow of barbed
wire. I erase the word erase from the documentation,
out from the barbed wire. Return to glue,
scissors, yarn from every word so as to
hide, lose, and erase once again
the word erase. And a knock
that's never been erased inside a shadow's
death: a guest from a door's shadow that's never
knocked on the door.
The guest suspects I don't have a chair to
die in, if I don't have a floor to live on. Waiting.
Waited on. Plans at 7PM. He serves the word
eraser from a book store to his guests,
like a shadow that'll slip away from its light.
You're my guest who I wait for from the mistake
of typing the word erase in a story about
a brilliant morning, and birds in flight
drifting away erasing their own chirps.
You don't have another chance to tidy what
can no longer be erased, after this poem. The eraser
causes 5 o'clock in the evening. Comes through til its
vacancy can no longer be seen.
DOCUMENT SHREDDING MACHINE
Let's go, drink up. No. I'm not contents with es kelapa
muda. Eat up in that case, please. No. I'm
not contents with nasi rames. Come in to my bathroom,
please if you're not thirsty, if you're not hungry,
if you're bored of eating. Allow me to bestow
friendliness on you, for all the longing that
destroys the walls of my ego. How can
I go out if you don't come in.
You can hear my bathroom bathing
grammar, in the tempter's hands of a TV poet.
Allow me to lead you by your hand. Come
in here which is over there. Nowadays which are bygone days.
Come in if you don't like grammar. Please
if it's like that, exchange your clothes with my clothes.
The washing machine washed them after I got drunk, after
I cried, after I killed myself 12 minutes
ago. Imagine my body in those empty clothes.
Please read your sorrows:
“Yesterday I was bored, today i'm bored, tomorrow
yesterday's boredom will come again.” What, does grammar
have to change into an ice cream museum so that
you're not bored. Please. Everything that's done in
the name of language, it's a mask of fire. Market
that replaces your body with a document shredding
machine. Please, I'm only a somebody in
proses like this, a tourist erupting
inside a dictionary. A sulky poem
in the corpse craw of a poet.
Please, put me to sleep in your untranslated
silence. Document shredding machine
alone in your sagas.
NOTE: Es kelapa muda is a beverage made from the water and pulp of a young coconut mixed with ice and sweet syrup. Nasi rames is a meal that consists of white rice accompanied by small portions of various meat, egg, vegetable, tempeh, and/or tofu dishes.
IN LINE FOR MONEY AT THE BANK
Someone comes up and bumps into my back.
Says something, counts something,
like a burning mattress floating away on a river.
Then he puts an ice cube in my mineral water.
ACROSS A LEAF
I'm not all the leaves on this tree. I'm only
a leaf on this tree. Only this tree and
only a leaf. I'm only a leaf
growing on my neck. Only green li-
ke a leaf. I'm only a leaf that
speaks with my mouth. I mean,
my mouth is a leaf that speaks
with my mouth. I mean, I'm only
a leaf that's a leaf. Don't sweet talk me
into being a tree even though you give me
god. Don't sweet talk me into being all the leaves
on this tree even though you give me the promise
of death. I'm not death's problem and god's problem. I'm
similar, I mean similar to a question I live
not for all the things you say after
death. After death I'm not life and de-
ath is not a leaf that represents all
the leaves on this tree.
I'm only a green color on a tree
I don't know the name of. A tree that makes me
know I'm here, alive here. I mean,
don't scare me like the kids that
run across death. I remember them,
from time to time, and, look over there, look
at the people walking with their legs, trees
growing, children play feeling happiness
having a laugh, sky made of a woman's
hair. I am a leaf sewn
onto a tree branch.
And walking. And sleeping. And forgetting. And sweeping. And eating.
And picking up the laundry. And photographing someone else's wedding
in a cafe in Shanghai. And reading. And cutting your nails. And
photographing cat sex at Lely's house. And visiting my friend's
grave in Surabaya. And his kid's in college. And his kid sends
a text, who is my father? And his kid doesn't sleep in her mother's
room. And her name is Dya Ginting. And burning the trash. And
mowing the lawn. And picking up a plastic bag that somebody
threw to the curb. And kissing a puppy. And visiting
a friend who's crying at his laptop. And wanting to live in
Maria Callas' voice. And not having money. And waiting for royalties
from poetry. And meeting Caligula's corpse in language. And bathing. And
wanting to say to you that I've already said it.
Afrizal Malna is an artist, theater maker, and writer of poetry, short stories, novels, literary essays, and play scripts. His latest books are Pada Batas Setiap Masakini (Octopus, 2017), Pagi Yang Miring Ke Kanan (Nyala, 2017), and Berlin Proposal (Nuansa Cendekia, 2015). He is the head of the Jakarta Arts Council's Theater Committee and was a 2015 DAAD Artist-in-Residence (Berlin). He has recently performed at poetry festivals in Bremen, Maastricht, Hamburg, Kerala, and Yokohama and was a participant in the 2017 Jakarta Biennale. His work has been translated into German, Spanish, and English.Daniel Owen
Daniel Owen is the author of Toot Sweet (United Artists Books), Restaurant Samsara (Furniture Press Books), and the chapbook Authentic Other Landscape (Diez). His translation of Afrizal Malna’s Document Shredding Machine is forthcoming in 2019 from Reading Sideways Press. His writing has appeared in Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail, The Fanzine, Vestiges, and elsewhere. He is a member of the Ugly Duckling Presse editorial collective.