The fall of Suharto

a poem by Farah Dianputri

Something about that red brick, Brutalist architecture 

Reminded me of Jakarta—

Rama finding his Sita near Cilandak, 

Only to throw her in the pyre they made out 

Of the Marriot I think I was one 

When my Nenda dropped me, buckling knees 

Bracing the blow that buffeted through 

The tarmac that knitted this tattered city together as it racked itself apart 

At seventy-two this country is younger than my dead grandfather 

Whose breath reeked of kretek and Fisherman’s Friend 

Folly in the crinkle of a smile, he carried with that scrunched 

Packet always offered to give me a try, not of the cigarettes but the mint 

Pungent to the point I recall old sultans in the southeast 

Used to chew and spit betel to prove their worth

I’ve seen their pewter nutcrackers at a museum in Kuala Lumpur or perched in my mother’s cabinet, 

Perhaps I’ve got a bit of royalty in me, a stubborn little princess 

Who would take the burnt stubs and smack them on 

The alabaster rimming the columns at Westminster. 

I’ve had conversations till the connections were tendered tenuous 

He tells me his creativity is mired with temptation to stray 

Like the desire for a drink or a fag or a doubie 

He goes down like tequila and you forget everything 

She tells me that if anything comes out of the love polygon 

I simulated to make sense of her polyamory 

It would be something to write about. 

Some people just stick to your skin, I try to count the times 

I had to peel myself off someone else 

A few dips of whiskey in, she tells me about her dead sister, 

how we romanticise tragedy we were too young to remember 

and how we implicate them in the slights we commit now.

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