welcome to the waning moon. it doesn’t matter what we want it to do, it wanes away just the same. it doesn’t matter how many votes either candidate gets. prabowo has already decided that he will rule this country, and he will brook no dissent, nor can he, with row upon row of the condemned but undead in grey formation behind him, clutching rusty spears, swords, and fears sharpened and pitched at just such an angle forward, emitting an unnatural grey glow. no dissent can be brooked at all, the deals have been cut, and can’t be uncut. it’s a fight to the bloody bone of brutal death in a grubby gully on a mountainside that doesn’t take sides.
there are millions of others here. and like the mountainside they don’t take sides either. but who are they? who exactly are they? they don’t wear a uniform, they don’t carry a flag, but you see them, don’t you? there they are! millions upon millions of them! but they don’t do anything at all, they just squint, they squint just like that, peering with pinched eyelids intently into a miasma of fog and funk, standing quite still, but nobody orders them to retreat and no retreat is possible. they are innumerable, and not moving, the corners of their mouths pulled tight in a strangely bright kind of curiosity and concern, leaning against that ugly grey glare as if it were solid, as if they’ve known it forever. they lean in balance there, and nothing has ever been so strange, so disconcerting, so hazardous. nothing.
the millions take no sides, there are no sides to take. yet they stand there, leaning toward a crowd of old men. the old men are entrenched and armed, with phalanxes at the fore, their broad bellies down, like they’ve dug in for a battle to end all battles. not a one among those old men is well, not a one is at ease, and none can find a comfortable position on the cold gravelly mud. yet there they all are looking into millions of squints, amid a strange glare and stench and untold acres of damp grit. and here we are. here i am. leaning also against that strange foamy glare and praying that i never have to draw my service revolver since i can’t shoot it nor can any one else i know shoot theirs. do i have one? were revolvers even issued? who remembers weapons?
didn’t we do this from 1914 to 1918? did that work out well? were there not fields of poppies, and still now, fields of them flickering and waving and mocking us all for miles, forever, marking ever so loosely a littany of lost sons that’s too long to write, a littany of lost brothers, lists of lost lovers, and hidden hazy yellow afternoons lost beyond measure or recompense?
ash and mud. ash and mud. here’s a helmet, a sodden foot, a scrap of paper, an angel’s wing. weren’t these the last remaining measures of the world? of love? and didn’t we do that, then? didn’t we already do all of this?
didn’t we do this from 1862 to 1865? did we not hear then the cannons and cries? the bodies on bodies, rotting in anonymous agony, unending, layered on the millions of memories that will never be remembered, the unthought thoughts that launched horror onto a horrorless hopeful new world, rendering it forever old?
didn’t we witness weaponry outstripping our powers to heal, and didn’t we already go elbow deep in entrails with our neighbors, our hatred and blood last winter? or was that indonesia? or september? or the mid-sixties? i didn’t forget, but nobody remembers.
didn’t we find already the futility left amid cinders of burnt hair, gas chambers, dead virgins, babies, and an infinity of mud? we did, didn’t we? we did. the infinity of mud was printed by boot soles. and the prints are my memory. only that. we did that, didn’t we? inquisitors did, heretics did, emperors and poets did, saints and scoundrels did, and you did, too. we saw you.
didn’t we do this? didn’t we already do all of this, every time our voices cracked in abhorrence of death, in defiance of our finiteness, in defense of our petulant fragile selves? i think we did. we did all of this so many times, and we do it now from nine to noon and constantly thereafter according to the times we hate finding ourselves in. those times! such painful, bloody, bone-on-metal times they are. such regrettable and regretted times. we did that, we did exactly that, and we had done it already.
what did doing that do? nothing. what endures in between the hacking of an umbilical cord and the hacking desperation of a death rattle? something we did does, but i don’t remember what it was. and we did that, too.
mister prabowo subianto, you did that. you did it so many times you can’t remember any one of them. your idols and commanders did that again and again in a time that was unturned, a time unwound, a time of dead watchsprings waiting inside their gold cases in perfect darkness.
nothing is perpetual. nothing can invoke perpetuality, nothing suspends decay, and here you are with five candles, in another country, a lost one, from another context, a world blurred by lace curtains, parents and barely visible sunlight so low on the horizon that it hunkers down there waiting for you in a crowd of unlifting mists, in ranks and files, in a palpable fascination that wanders weeping in search of either its subject or object. that was a boy in shorts and socks in a lost land. you don’t remember, perhaps, but we do. of course we do. we all did that. we did that.
why forget anything, when your eyes don’t, and dangling-down arsenic eyes never will. nor will the opaque eyes of men dredged-up from the dead, their lives borrowed like books that are never returned, like transactions aborted, even though their souls were redeemed when the water went up and the eyes went down. they didn’t breathe, they didn’t need to. they don’t need to now. they see just how we did that. don’t make it personal. don’t be arrogant. you’re not important. it wasn’t you. we did that. now rest. we did that. it’s enough. it’s as enormous and grand as a picture postcard of a circus lion. it can never be outdone.
we did that.
be well, mas prabowo. be well. sleep soundly, perchance to dream. you’ve never done anything at all.
we did that.