• Ye Myint Thu


          ‘To his credit, editor Ye Myint Thu, who may have taken “good
poets borrow, great poets steal” to heart, claims responsibility
and stresses that …’
          (ko ko thett)


I am who I am. Because

My birthmark knows me well

At least, twenty generations have lived in my body

You’ll see we have nine thousand grandfathers,

Great grandfathers, great great grandfathers and great great great grandfathers

All of us have lost focus on this straight line

Of course we are self-sufficient, we can reference one another

My problem, my politics, trash it where you like, overtake or block my lane

On the quarter of my history page, human life is deemed a merchandise

From the wars we cannot imagine

We are Wounds of Shame, boxed in the Box of Shame

When we bite our lips tough, flowers fall from the flame tree, one by one

I’ve torn all my childhood photos to bits

I’ve rolled myself down to my best

Great eruptions have occurred in me

I’ve tripped off into an inescapable black hole

All on my own, I have to pull out the nail I’ve driven in

Our concrete form, benefits of doubt

We are soldiers who merely wage war against fate

I am a little posy of branches bitten off by a bird

I am a kite flier whose string was cut under duress

Of course, I’ve had to return to the source of my mortification

Who’s peeled off my bulky scab?

You can’t fool me. I grew up under the fool stars

We’ve lost everything in a vanishing trick

I am the night wishing for peace and quiet

I'm not yet drunk, two more shots into my glass, please

If I am resurrected as a cold-blooded creature, orange days will return

I am looking for myself so I could murder him

Are both my cheeks just for slapping and backhand slapping by loka

Let me take off my little skin and put it there for a while

What on earth this robot is, to come and talk to me such things?

Shall we just kick down my current life

May the smells of our burnt flesh keep you amused

I dress myself up in the traditional costume set by the regime

I’m civilised and urbane

In my politics, I am a democrat

In my democracy, I am a dictator

I’ve appeared only in the last line

I'm the dare poet

My apologies, Yamaguchi Khin Swe Yi

As for me, I have declined the payment all my fifty years

My verse will make you a thawtapan in five minutes

The chemistry of my poem makes him squirm

As the weapon of my mind reads a red rune

I’m not sure if our poetry belongs to basic needs of this country.


Translated by Phyu Hnin Phway and ko ko thett



Translators’ Notes:
1. This piece is a collage of well-known lines by different contemporary Burmese poets, the idea being that Ye Myint Thu ‘steals’ those lines to make his own poems.
2. Loka (Pali): material and immaterial worlds.
3. Thawtapan (Burmese): From Pali Sotapana, literally meaning ‘the person who enters the stream (of noble eightfold path).’ Sotapana, Sakadagami, Anagami, and Arahat are the four stages of Buddhist enlightenment.