The Age that Craves for Democracy


What will you bring for Tomorrow
When you come back from September?
One thing for sure, a squirt of a poet says,
‘We will continue to crave Democracy
Even when the month is over.’

Democracy can be heard
in hip-hop, in punk and in postmodern poems.
Democracy can be seen in rock, in fashion,
in media, in performance arts and in other abstracts.
Listen carefully, Democracy is sung in the highest key
By the child busker who plays a bamboo rainmaker.

The Thoroughfare of History is flooded.
These are the times when people chisel away, carve out and write up
The history of a period when the denizens of that era
Failed to promise anything like
‘There won’t be any deluge in Democracy.’

Nothing remains intact.
Even my sideburns that had been pulled as punishment
When I was a tadpole are turning grey.
Aging is poking fun at us.
By the way, the lad says
‘There is nothing funny about Democracy.’
Hasn’t Maung Pon learned the harp?
He has broken too many silk strings.
‘No problem!’
The Age of Atavism says,
‘I will dance with the DJ.
Let Democracy boogie down to the music.’

From the hamlets in the Irrawaddy Delta
To New York’s skyscrapers,
There are our nationals who drone with
We-want-Democracy-We-want-Democracy mentra.

In savoir-faire,
Father and son do not share the same ism.
Mother and son do not share the same social grace.
We swallow our sighs and donate all we have
To have more money.
From time to time, Democracy seems okay
In her birthday suit.

There are too many horse traders.
Too many Masters.
Can any homily can be chic
Without Democracy?

Drunken dad has no idea.
His daughter’s school fee in Regressive Epoch
Went down with the puke he puked
At the corner of a beer restaurant.
Daddy, will beers become affordable
When there is Democracy?

Would you like to pick my feathers?
Would you like to juice me?
Moments after scarcities have speared
the evening of the virgin teen with a sharp wink…,
Would you like to skin me?
Would you like to chew on my bones?
I am selling my own virginity, not yours, who cares!
Whenever you achieve Democracy
Condoms at least should be free.

The barbed wire and the baton were only doing their job.
Mothers have died of broken-chest syndrome in this age.
Democracy, in the style that doesn’t know the prison squat,
Giggles irreverently.

If people are a loud-mouthed djembe,
Lousy system and destitution are
the hands that bang the drumhead.
That’s how they make noise.
Don’t you come play your harp to a water buffalo.
Pity on you, Democracy!

Don’t you make a snap,
There will be barbed wires.
On the pedestrian walk,
On the path where monks do their morning rounds,
On the road to school,
Barbed wires after barbed wires.
From the sides of People’s City Hall to
The roadblocks in the dimmest corners of rural life,
There are barbed wires.
Shouldn’t Democracy buy and sell barbed wires then?

Barbed wires
Spiky wire, barbed wires
Spiky wire, spiky wire, barbed wires!
From universities, temples and offices to
The homes of the minsters.
For people who had had only bad things in life,
Barbed wires are party dress.
Shall I set in stone the Chronicle of Democracy just like that?
Almost just like that?

Human life is too short.
Before he could stroke the cheek wrinkles of his lover,
His soul was cut up by a land mine.
He may have been a star that dared to fall,
But his times had simply ignored him.
Democracy still fears to give him
A gun salute in attention!

Comrade, let me dedicate my charity to you.
Friend, let me dedicate my merits to you.
Son, let me dedicate my good deeds to you.
What an eye opener!
They think they have Democracy in this age,
When we still have to whisper our prayers.

In the throat of Unpeace
Peace is being choked.
There will be bashing and battering,
Nagging and blackmailing, until he can throw up.
In an age when widows and orphans anticipate
The symbolism of a son who will come back
With a gold pot on his shoulder at sunrise…
Democracy sits in the living room and
Roasts racist green chillies in open fire.

When will the poems that crave for Democracy
Appear in Newsweek?
Your itch flagellates you.
The streets are littered
With trashy humans and their wastes.

In our times,
We ourselves have allowed
Our own beliefs to be handcuffed.
That’s how we craved for Democracy.
If you read between the lines,
You are bound to whiff the armpit odour
Of that age, The Age of Decay,
This, I dare say, my friend.


Sein Khat Soe

Translated from the Burmese by ko ko thett.

The original poem was published on (02 October, 2012).



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