Kemang Afternoon Blues

Had it not been for the traffic jam
You’d have thought being elsewhere
Most the niceties seemed so foreign
Speaking a tongue so unfamiliar

The bookstore you were in
Saw a sea of printed words
Of books beyond reach
So beautiful they were doomed

Even a minute you were denied
A meeting with the busy manager
Who had sent you over the phone
No help in sight; you’d better go home

Clinks of glasses
Suffocating smokes
Chuckling women and men
Dressed to kill in fashionable lifestyle
This café where you got stranded
Found you wondering what went wrong

A man my age plugging his notebook
Deciding to trot down the globe
Without an exchange of words
He vanished to another world

The soul you could relate to
Was the one serving the coffee
The bill that she later gave you
Still remembered your poetry

Poems jumping out of your heart
Scurried down the busy roads outside
Down the antique shops up to galleries
Come back! Poetry unallowed here.

In the corner of an inner alley
Wartegs* stood solemnly
Waiting for the regulars:
Hungry waiters and secretaries

In the mountains of garbage
In the clogged gutters
And the spits of taxi drivers
Our future was in sight

“Sorry man, no mosque around
But if you want, over there:
Quite some sweats away
Mind telling Him to wait?
We’re too busy down here.”

(Kemang, April-May 2006)

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Kemang Afternoon Blues