Poetry / June 2013 (Issue 21)

Muse, Burma

by Aye Wollam

Here, no artist lounges by the old Gun Bridge
dangling his feet above the swirl of Shweli river. No one
contemplates the significance of the town’s name when
written in English. The border guards lazily chew the crushed
areca nuts wrapped in betel leaves, and spit out the red juice
without glancing at the passing lorries.

Crates roll in from the heart of Yunnan province;
aim for the churning gut of Mandalay. Guns come in,
heroin goes out. Cheap motorcycles in: young village girls out.
Yaba comes in, Yaba goes out. Hands grip the steering wheel;
hands flash the “betel nut money” to the guards with stained teeth.
All day, the ground collects red splats, a canvas for Jackson Pollock.  
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