Afrizal Malna, museum penghancur dokumen, Yogyakarta: Garudhawaca, 2013.*
Translations by Daniel Owen.
How’s it going? If I were to greet you wi-
th a dead camera that’s freed itself from
the first page of a photo book. Great. If
you were to feel me inside you when
you’re outside yourself. A diagram of a-
n angle of light composes a deep darkness
within its focus. Click. Unleashing silent
documentation, a body ill and left behi-
nd, scattered on the bookshelf, a d-
iagram of me in vertical lines and a dia-
gram of you in horizontal lines, interse-
ct me outside their frames. Great.
The sound of horses’ hooves among the
archive’s cadavers. Factory stink from
above. Click. The wind has hands when
I collect strands of your hair from the
white bedsheets. Intercourse of human de-
ath, in the middle of an epoch’s funeral.
Could death take my picture.
Beside me, a dictionary. To overthrow
my body. To overthrow my clothes. Its
pages poison in silence. Just a dictiona-
ry. From the war of crafting a story.
From the tale of crafting a god. Words
fall into it, taking its edge. Taking its
blood. Its eyes take its gaze. Make it so
I can’t see a long song about us. Groani-
ng, like a photocopy machine in a mouth
Dragonfly Above a Tall Fence
A paper on which I paint a field of stars,
it’s gray, the place where Tenzin Phuntsok
self-immolated. Making grayer the gray of
the paper. A paper on which I paint the mouth
of a field of fish, it’s gray, the place where
Chakgragunasegaran self-immolated. Making
grayer the gray of the paper. The dictatorship
of gray paper makes a rotten reek drop
from the sky. As if there’s carrion perpetually
worshipped in the gray of the sky, a remembrance
between a soybean and a sunflower. Dragonflies
flutter around, above a tall fence, immeasurable,
between me and all me’s. Make a morning from
a dictionary emptied of names for time. Make a
shrine above fact’s death.
Loneliness on the 5th Floor of a Hospital
A man stared at me after saying
his prayers. His eyebrows looked like he wanted
to say something, or was I
making that up? — I went up to him, and
kissed his lips. The human body is sad and
holds the past’s cadavers. But his eyebrows
said, my shoulders hurt and can feel
a kiss from the whole of solitude.
I went back to kissing the man, like tomato juice
that doesn’t know why the man prays and
at the same time feels like its
lying. I embraced that man
on the 5th floor of a hospital. The man
watched an ambulance come and break right
through to his heart. He wasn’t sure if it
was the ambulance or if it was the heart.
And then I jumped from the 5th floor of the hospital,
and I saw my body floating, cigarettes
spilling out of my pockets. I saw
silence explode from a nurse’s dress, and then
I didn’t see when suddenly I couldn’t feel
time anymore: god, don’t leave loneliness
on its own standing on the 5th floor of a hospital. That
man didn’t know if death was a lie
about time and about love.
The man went back to staring at me after
saying his silence, and made a meadow
of stars on the hospital window pane.
His kiss resembled saying something, that silence,
it had never lied to him. I watched the man’s
face, like a blanket that reeked of medicines.
A rat trap beneath a pillow. And you know,
I am an inmate of your wounds.
*Reading Sideways Press is working with Afrizal Malna and Daniel Owen to produce an English language version of Afrizal’s volume, museum penghancur dokumen. The volume will be published in late 2018.