Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Mae Yway

IT’S LIKE YOU AVOID EATING CHICKEN WHEN YOU GET A NEW TATTOO

It’s like you avoid eating chicken when you get a new tattoo
The map of excitement is underarm sweat
The two of us burn to ashes while screaming ‘peaceful love’
When I cry, you tear tissues from your body and give them to me
But we have to look up the word ‘body’ in the dictionary first
So that we spell it right
It just so happens that we have omitted some realities
From our memories of coincidences, for instance, our ex-lovers

In reality, nothing could finish me off
And in the end we went different ways
I go shopping and cook something
When the kitchen knife decides to attack, I get cut into pieces
Then there are wounds that heal in fire
When scabs peel off, the tattoo comes into view like a new scent of hunger

One’s ultimate right is midnight, making love
In the kitchen or in the living room or on the verandah

Shortcomings are so tedious
Light rises from the mountains
Light looks down at me
Vines attempt to seduce me with their grapes

‘How should we carry on?’ I shout and shout
My voice doesn’t come forward, but goes backward and crawls on the ground
You messed me up and now I am little pieces scattered and destroyed
My hands go under the bed, but the feet don’t know what to do
The brain rolls and bumps into the dustbin standing in a corner
The scalp glows in the dark
A new door has found me at the age of twenty-five

This is the color blue going to the sea
Or the yellow of afternoon that constricts pupils
Or traffic lights in Yangon, that show red light and green light simultaneously
Otherwise bullet-riddled bodies will come floating from the border
Otherwise Nwe and I will just be playing checkers
Or it may just be Ponyo swimming among whales in the city flooded at the doors
Or the year 2016, which I lived through by curling up in a luggage
Or please just take our watches and give time in return
Or I may just be sitting on two stools at the same time, sweetheart
Or Mae Yway may just be mumbling ‘nothing’s important in life’ in her sleep

When did the sense of self-importance enter my body and from where?
Zeyar Lynn wrote the phrase ‘a fire engine catching fire’ in one of his poems
Well I am that fire engine
It just so happens that I go into that poem and catch fire
It just so happens that you won’t sing a loud siren like that fire engine

HET IS ALSOF JE GEEN KIP EET WANNEER JE EEN NIEUWE TATOEAGE NEEMT

Het is alsof je geen kip eet wanneer je een nieuwe tatoeage neemt
De kaart van opwinding is okselzweet
Wij tweeën worden in de as gelegd terwijl we ‘vredige liefde’ schreeuwen
Wanneer ik huil, trek jij tissues van je lichaam en geeft ze aan mij
Maar we moeten eerst het woord 'lichaam' opzoeken in het woordenboek
Zodat we het correct kunnen spellen
We hebben nu eenmaal een aantal realiteiten uit onze herinneringen
Aan toevalligheden weggelaten, bijvoorbeeld, onze exen

Maar eigenlijk kon niets mij eronder krijgen
En uiteindelijk gingen we ieder onze eigen weg
Ik ga winkelen en kook iets
Wanneer het keukenmes besluit aan te vallen, word ik in stukken gereten
Dan zijn er ook nog wonden die genezen door vuur
Wanneer de korsten loslaten, komt de tatoeage in beeld als een nieuwe hongergeur

Je ultieme recht is het middernachtelijk uur, het bedrijven van de liefde
In de keuken of in de woonkamer of op de veranda

Tekortkomingen zijn zo onhebbelijk
Zonlicht rijst op achter de bergen
Zonlicht kijkt op mij neer
Wijnstokken proberen me met hun druiven te verleiden

‘Hoe moeten we nu verder?’ schreeuw ik en schreeuw ik maar
Mijn stem gaat niet voor- maar achteruit en kruipt over de grond
Je hebt mij de vernieling in geholpen en nu lig ik aan gruzelementen
Mijn handen gaan onder het bed, maar mijn voeten hebben geen idee
De hersenen rollen en hobbelen de vuilnisbak in die in een hoek staat
De hoofdhuid gloeit in het donker
Een nieuwe deur heeft me gevonden op mijn vijfentwintigste

Dit is de kleur blauw die naar zee gaat
Of het geel van de namiddag waardoor pupillen vernauwen
Of stoplichten in Yangon die simultaan op rood en groen staan
Anders drijven met kogels doorzeefde lichamen vanaf de grens naar ons toe
Anders dammen Nwe en ik een paar potjes
Of het is misschien Ponyo die tussen walvissen zwemt in de stad overstroomd bij de poorten
Of het jaar 2016, dat ik doorkwam door mij op te rollen in bagage
Of pak ons alsjeblieft onze horloges af en geef ons er tijd voor terug
Of misschien ben ik op twee stoelen tegelijk aan het zitten, lieverd
Of Mae Yway is ‘niets doet ertoe in het leven’ aan het mompelen in haar slaap

Wanneer kwam dat gevoel van eigenbelang mijn lichaam binnen en waar vandaan?
Zeyar Lynn schreef de regel ‘een brandweerwagen die in brand vliegt’ in een van zijn gedichten
Nou ik ben die brandweerwagen
Toevallig loop ik dat gedicht binnen en vlieg in brand
Toevallig wil jij niet een luide sirene laten loeien als die van de brandweerwagen

Close

IT’S LIKE YOU AVOID EATING CHICKEN WHEN YOU GET A NEW TATTOO

It’s like you avoid eating chicken when you get a new tattoo
The map of excitement is underarm sweat
The two of us burn to ashes while screaming ‘peaceful love’
When I cry, you tear tissues from your body and give them to me
But we have to look up the word ‘body’ in the dictionary first
So that we spell it right
It just so happens that we have omitted some realities
From our memories of coincidences, for instance, our ex-lovers

In reality, nothing could finish me off
And in the end we went different ways
I go shopping and cook something
When the kitchen knife decides to attack, I get cut into pieces
Then there are wounds that heal in fire
When scabs peel off, the tattoo comes into view like a new scent of hunger

One’s ultimate right is midnight, making love
In the kitchen or in the living room or on the verandah

Shortcomings are so tedious
Light rises from the mountains
Light looks down at me
Vines attempt to seduce me with their grapes

‘How should we carry on?’ I shout and shout
My voice doesn’t come forward, but goes backward and crawls on the ground
You messed me up and now I am little pieces scattered and destroyed
My hands go under the bed, but the feet don’t know what to do
The brain rolls and bumps into the dustbin standing in a corner
The scalp glows in the dark
A new door has found me at the age of twenty-five

This is the color blue going to the sea
Or the yellow of afternoon that constricts pupils
Or traffic lights in Yangon, that show red light and green light simultaneously
Otherwise bullet-riddled bodies will come floating from the border
Otherwise Nwe and I will just be playing checkers
Or it may just be Ponyo swimming among whales in the city flooded at the doors
Or the year 2016, which I lived through by curling up in a luggage
Or please just take our watches and give time in return
Or I may just be sitting on two stools at the same time, sweetheart
Or Mae Yway may just be mumbling ‘nothing’s important in life’ in her sleep

When did the sense of self-importance enter my body and from where?
Zeyar Lynn wrote the phrase ‘a fire engine catching fire’ in one of his poems
Well I am that fire engine
It just so happens that I go into that poem and catch fire
It just so happens that you won’t sing a loud siren like that fire engine

IT’S LIKE YOU AVOID EATING CHICKEN WHEN YOU GET A NEW TATTOO

It’s like you avoid eating chicken when you get a new tattoo
The map of excitement is underarm sweat
The two of us burn to ashes while screaming ‘peaceful love’
When I cry, you tear tissues from your body and give them to me
But we have to look up the word ‘body’ in the dictionary first
So that we spell it right
It just so happens that we have omitted some realities
From our memories of coincidences, for instance, our ex-lovers

In reality, nothing could finish me off
And in the end we went different ways
I go shopping and cook something
When the kitchen knife decides to attack, I get cut into pieces
Then there are wounds that heal in fire
When scabs peel off, the tattoo comes into view like a new scent of hunger

One’s ultimate right is midnight, making love
In the kitchen or in the living room or on the verandah

Shortcomings are so tedious
Light rises from the mountains
Light looks down at me
Vines attempt to seduce me with their grapes

‘How should we carry on?’ I shout and shout
My voice doesn’t come forward, but goes backward and crawls on the ground
You messed me up and now I am little pieces scattered and destroyed
My hands go under the bed, but the feet don’t know what to do
The brain rolls and bumps into the dustbin standing in a corner
The scalp glows in the dark
A new door has found me at the age of twenty-five

This is the color blue going to the sea
Or the yellow of afternoon that constricts pupils
Or traffic lights in Yangon, that show red light and green light simultaneously
Otherwise bullet-riddled bodies will come floating from the border
Otherwise Nwe and I will just be playing checkers
Or it may just be Ponyo swimming among whales in the city flooded at the doors
Or the year 2016, which I lived through by curling up in a luggage
Or please just take our watches and give time in return
Or I may just be sitting on two stools at the same time, sweetheart
Or Mae Yway may just be mumbling ‘nothing’s important in life’ in her sleep

When did the sense of self-importance enter my body and from where?
Zeyar Lynn wrote the phrase ‘a fire engine catching fire’ in one of his poems
Well I am that fire engine
It just so happens that I go into that poem and catch fire
It just so happens that you won’t sing a loud siren like that fire engine
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Literature Translation Institute of Korea
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