Let Us Suppose You Love Me

White Lotus Bloom
Photo by Takeshi+81/Flickr

§          Leaves and twigs on the ground

Do I have to know the name of that tall tree to free-fall from her canopy? In my language there are 1,500 synonyms for penis, and only 528 different ways to describe vagina. Does it say anything about my phobia? 

§          Let me break it down again

Shall I collapse into a relapse? I am a bambino taking his first baby steps. White lotus blooms from the earth just to embrace each of my footfalls. 

            Off balance, I keep smiling to myself. This moment, I am gold. Next moment, I am silver. Before bedtime every day, I take a pill that dissolves only in my liver.

§          Cane, in fact, is a little brother of bamboo

In the Liberated Area, I lived on bamboo shoots in a bamboo hut. I carried a bamboo rifle. The Thais say the weapons of choice of the royal Burmese infantry that ransacked Siam in the eighteenth century were solid bamboo clubs and bamboo spears. I have seen throats cut with a bamboo strip on the China border           

            At school I was caned by language teachers. At home I was caned by father. In the Liberated Area, they stripped me naked, they crammed me in a bamboo coop and, with a tiny wet cane, they caned the most sensual parts of my body day in day out until I named all the 1,500 synonyms for penis. Rebooting never cleanses my system of bamboophobia. A famine is imminent whenever bamboos flower.

§          They call it “fuck” because all other four-letter words were taken

Life’s trappings are deeper than the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana trench. A German lover who once proposed to me said the only reason she wanted to get married was to get herself a new family name. Her family name translates Taxcollector. Recently she has become Frau Wagner, a Mrs. Wagondriver.

§          I recommend you walk around in Rangoon’s diagonal rain

That’ll correct your neck pain. If you climb, you can climb to the canopy. If you dive, you’d better dive to the sand and avoid hitting rock bottom. If you are into diving – as opposed to climbing, which most of us do since our ancestors have left the ocean, Hla Than has warned, “Never take the earth for granted. I have come to understand art, after having sex with a transsexual who is more woman than a woman.”


Photo by Dragan Radovancevic

ko ko thett is a poet by choice and a Burmese by chance. In between he is a poetry translator, editor, and anthologist of contemporary Burmese poetry (see WLT, January 2012, 35–41). His first anthology, Bones Will Crow: Fifteen Contemporary Burmese Poets, was published in the US by Northern Illinois University Press. He lives in Vienna and writes in both Burmese and English.