“MONSTERS?”

How can we identify monsters?
These days, every one seems more alike
Not all look creepy that they make you shudder
They can be harmless before that very first strike

How do we know which one is the predator?
How many are there?
Should we lock every door?
Must we always feel this scared?

They look so normal
completely human
They seem to stay out of trouble
until the victims fall…

…undeniably more and more
Body counts that won’t stop
The list goes on and it’s a lot
with more impatient, angry mob
demanding justice from every cop

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been careful
Their friendly ways can still have you fooled
Even if they’re not into you
they might target your children too

How can we identify monsters?
Have we already let them in,
through our open doors?
Have they played their charm,
before causing anyone harm?

Which ones are the predators?
How do we know for sure?
Don’t you wish you were a psychic,
just to discover who’s really sick?

Monsters…predators?
May none of them be seen in the mirror

R.

#WorldPoetryDay2017

“THAT LONELY PIANO IS LONGING FOR YOUR TUNES”

That big black piano looks dusty in the living room. A week has gone by and I haven’t even cleaned it up.

I don’t even want to touch it.

That piano used to be very well looked-after, down to the edge of the string and keyboard. Black and shiny on the surface, looking elegant.

To you, it was more than just a musical instrument. It was your partner-in-crime, whether in composing or performing on stage. Its clinking sound had always been perfect to go along with your beautiful singing voice.

I understood and shouldn’t be jealous. Silly, it was just a piano. Besides, this was how you made a living – especially for me and the kids.

Did you have any idea just how proud the kids and I had always been with you? Once they told their friends at school:

“One of our dads sings and plays piano. He’s on stage and on TV.”

I remember that worried look on your handsome face. (Your ageless, handsome face – no matter how old you’d get.) You never wanted us to be the media target. Spare the kids. Let us be the only who know this love. Not all could and would understand. A lot would simply judge.

Let this love be our business for always. I understood. Your over two-decade-old career was still at stake. It didn’t matter that you had the talent and charming personality. Moral issues were always there. Well, even when this was supposed to be between us alone.

A lot of things I could get and also cherish. Your seemingly nonstop work schedule. I was the one who mostly did the house chores and took care of the kids.

But when you returned home, you really did come home. Your cellphone was mostly off. You really spent your time with me and our kids. I was so happy.

I miss waking up to the clinking sound of your piano. No matter how late you’d slept the night before, you always woke up earlier than me. Perhaps inspiration had been your biggest energy. I’d always stayed next to you with a cup of your favourite hot mint tea. Just sitting there and quietly listening to you, before the kids woke up and I had to drive them all to school.

Didn’t you know? You were my earthly paradise. The kids are missing you too. This house has been too quiet and gloomy lately.

There were other things that I couldn’t understand about you. Your vacantly staring eyes. Sometimes you pondered in silence alone.

Then, those suspicious minor tunes. The gloomy lyrics you’d never got to finish. (I’d checked the bin under your piano.) Those nightmares that had stolen the peacefulness in your sleep, even in my arms.

Love, what kind of ghosts that had burdened your thoughts? You never wanted me to know. Sometimes we argued about them. Not long after that, you started growing quiet and quieter…

…until a week ago…

I don’t know when I’ll ever get to understand. My love, the love from the kids, the music…as we had here. None of them were good enough to keep you here, to stop you from leaving…

…to wake you up from your eternal sleep, which you’d been after and worked on for so long…

May have sympathised, a lot have been wondering. I still don’t want to talk about it. They only know that I was the one who found you.

Now your face is everywhere, but this time with grieving headlines. I want to get angry, because you’re no longer there. How could you? Now I’m hurting and suffering. Why? Why, love? Why did you choose to die instead of staying here with me and the kids? Why? The kids are very sad. They asked me if somehow, they’d made you angry.

I’m staring at the piano, now as lonely as I am. Your tunes are no longer heard. This silence feels eternal, a frozen symphony.

The kids are away. They don’t need to see what I’m gazing at the mirror right now:

A heartbroken man, with tears running down…

“Whatever happened to love, sweet love?
Did it fade away and die?”

(“Minetta Lane” – Tommy Page)

“THAT LONELY PIANO AND ME”

That piano is lonely,
longing for your tunes
Once upon a time,
this room was full of joy
with beautiful melodies
and you singing so lovely

Now that piano is lonely
No one’s playing
those jolly tunes of love
This room feels hollow
Silence is a cold torment

I’m like that piano
missing you every day
No more songs of love and devotion
just an aching memory

I thought all of this was enough
like I did my love
Eventually, you chose to leave
this whole life, here on earth…

…of course, including me…

R.

(Jakarta, 10/3/2017 – 6:45 am)

“THE DELAYED EMOTIONAL REACTION”

This happens to me sometimes. Whenever something tragic happens, I tend to have a delayed emotional reaction.

My first would be to stare at it right on, my face lacking expression. Then after a while (sometimes even a few days or so), I start having those feelings burst out of me. Sadness. A sense of mild depression.

After that? Tears. Sometimes I even have to take a whole day away from the world, completely by myself. I have to finish crying without anyone looking. I’d rather be alone.

I don’t want anybody to see me like that. Ever. They’re more used to seeing me happy. They like me better that way. I hate to disappoint them.

I’ve stopped wondering whether this is normal or not. I’m just waiting for this same old storm to pass.

As always.

R.

“HUMBLE BRAGS: From Timeline To Timeline”

From timeline to timeline
everybody’s got their stories
all the guts and glory

Status1:
“I am a simple man
even with this new ride
from Papa’s old collection of cars
since he needs more space in his garage”

Status2:
“I don’t want to complicate this
I don’t even feel that pretty
but those guys say they want to be with me”

Status3:
“Stamps on my passport
time to get me a new one
despite this long, queuing line”

Status4:
“I am grateful to have completed this religious duty
anyone want to join me?”

Status5:
“I am too happy
I don’t care if my backstabbers still bitch about me”

From timeline to timeline
from time to time
there are always tales to tell
Join the club, you might just as well

R.

“THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT SOME WHATSAPP GROUPS”

Thanks to Whatsapp, we can do a lot more than just texting each other. We can send cute emoticons, pictures, and videos. We can update our status and profile pictures.

Now we can also do a video-call instead of a regular voice-call. Another thing is to create a Whatsapp (WA) group, where people can talk about stuff in the same chatroom. These groups exist with different reasons and functions. Some are for family and relatives, friends, work colleagues, clubs/communities, and even mini-groups for other stuff.

Some have strict disclaimers/rules, others…well, not so much.

It is a lot easier if a WA group has clearer rules on what to say/post and not. For example: only work-related stuff is allowed in the chatroom. That way, you are entitled to protest if a nosy co-worker secretly snaps a shot of your brand new shoes, then post it on the group chatroom with a tagline: “Ooh, are those from your rich bule* boyfriend?”

If I were the boss, I’d fire that co-worker in a heartbeat. That is inappropriate and unprofessional.

However, it is a lot trickier if the group has no clear ground rules. You might think these are killjoys, but still necessary. Managing a big number of people in a groups is challenging. They do not always want the same things and some of them can be very, very dominant and selfish.

Another issue to underline here includes: sexist, misogynistic jokes on WA groups.

You could be that guy who loves posting pictures of half-nude or naked women with jokes on them…and thinks it is okay. Even if the women in the pictures are fully-dressed (some even in their hijabs), you still find a way to harrass them. Just post those pictures on the group chatroom with this tagline: offering the other men in the group as if those women are nothing but merchandise items:

“Ayo, dipilih…dipilih…sebelum keburu diambil orang…” (Come on, take your pick…take your pick…before other guys have them all…)

Since you find that funny, you expect the whole group to laugh – despite being inconsiderate with the female members at present. At least you do not know those women in the pictures personally. They are not your mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters.

So why should you bother? You always get away with everything, being a man and all in this patriarchal society. They will always be on your side, normalising your behaviour – no matter how VILE and DISGUSTING.

How about if you are one of the women in the group, being forced to put up with such sexist, misogynistic jokes – day-after-day-after-FREAKING-DAY?! Will you play along and think it is okay, since you have no idea who those women are? As long as you are not the target, does that mean you are safe?

Will you laugh about them too, believing that this whole thing is harmless? Just words and pictures. They do not (have to) mean a damn thing. You should not be too “baper” (bawa perasaan = bloody sensitive) as most guilt-free, simplest minds out of ignorance would say. Besides, it has been considered ‘normal’ for centuries. Why does it have to change now?

I do not know about you, but sexist, misogynistic jokes are GARBAGE to me – NO EXCEPTIONS. It does not matter if you are older than me; I am not afraid of telling you this – even saying it to your face if you are really asking for it.

There are friends who have experienced this similar issue. Of course, the first thing is to tell the sharer and the admin of the group. If they get the hint and stop, then it is a damn good thing. You will not have to feel sick to death at the sight of such digital garbage in the group.

But what if your complaint/protest is not taken seriously? Worst of all, what if you get attacked instead, being accused of ‘spoiling the fun’ or ‘being unable to take the joke’? What if they gaslight you with the word “baper”?

You are entitled to get angry, because you deserve the comfort they refuse to give – even if you are (considered) a minority. It is normal to feel insulted, disgusted, and ashamed at what they do. Guess what? It is also understandable to feel betrayed, especially since other women in that group seem to play it safe by keeping quiet. Maybe they think those sexist, misogynistic jokes are okay too.

Maybe they still do not know or are not as brave as you in speaking up. Either way, their silence still hurts you. The way they belittle your complaint/protest is a lot worse.

Is it because they prefer dressing up more modestly than some of the women in the pictures he posts with such jokes, then it is okay to slut-shame them too?

Frustrated already? I do not blame you. Perhaps you have done all you could to let them know that no, this is not a laughing matter. This is a serious issue. If you are that educated, then you should never put up with any of it.

Unfortunately, it is true what some people say. Education is not just a right, an obligation, nor a privilege. It is also a choice, which somehow they still refuse to take. Sad but true, but there is not much left to do.

There is no bloody point in wasting your energy by trying to get your message across the ignorant. It is like talking to brick walls, which is basically useless.

Just leave that WA group. You do not need such toxic masculinity in your life. About them? Well, just hope for the best.

R.

“BETWEEN THE JACKPOTS AND THE BLACKOUTS”

Between the jackpots and the blackouts
I saw your faces everywhere
My head was indeed full of heavy clouds
Some of you were already dead
and I was really scared

In and out of consciousness
a constant battle between light and darkness
trying hard to scream
drowning in an endless bad dream
swallowed by my own bed, it seemed

“Please, wake me up!”
I felt my spirit bounced all across the room
My body was like a sack of rag doll
unable to move, not even to crawl

Between the jackpots and the blackouts
No alcohol-fueled hangover could match this up
silently crying out the name of God…

…until one morning,
my spirit rejoined my body
awake as I could be…

I’m still alive today.

R.

(Jakarta, 23/2/2017 – 8:30 am)