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Three/Four stops with Mr. President
“Import license for new buses will be issued again”, the headlines roared.
Now on a packed bus, as we elbowed each other for an empty seat,
I noticed Mr. President.
Mr. President Sir, would our poems still have to be
juiced through the board of the press scrutiny?
I have no idea. I’ve been busy with infrastructure projects.

How transparent Mr. President is!
Mr. President Sir, this bus belongs to a special line!
I stood aside for Mr. President, offered a rickety seat with a missing screw.
I handed the conductor a five-hundred kyat note. For two VIPs!
The open-chested conductor spat betel quid through the window.
What an anal plague! Gimme a hundred bill, will ya?   
Mr. President saw that. The passengers saw me & Mr. President.   
In no time we were at The Standard.
Next, St. John! Next, Pegu Club!, the conductor yelled.
The bus sped past the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [under renovation].
Then, the National Museum!
NO STANDING PASSENGERS TO BE ENTERTAINED ON CITY BUSES.
Mr. President gazed at the sign, swamped with standing passengers.
As a red light slowed the bus on Ahlon Road, our driver hurled a world of
rat-fuck-sons-of-leeches at an unlicensed glossy SUV jerking under his nose.
It was raining in mid-May. It was raining through the bus roof.
Mr. President let out a presidential sigh.
Do you write such things in your poems?
 If so, poetry should be part of infrastructure projects.

Just as I responded, Yes, Mr. President Sir! Long live, Mr. President.,  
“Redearth Hillock, Redearth Hillock, this is your stop!”  
The conductor threw us out of the bus.
Mr. President found himself caressing the shiny new bus stop.
Are we already at Redearth Hillock?
Yes. Mr. President Sir!  We are now at the brand new Redearth Hillock stop
 right in front of People’s Park.
Are these things also in your poems?
If so, poetry should be part of infrastructure projects.

By the time we arrived at the original Redearth Hillock, we were out of breath.  
On our scramble for drinkable water, Mr. President & I licked each other’s sweat.
The following day, there were headlines about Mr. President’s health.
To this day it remains unclear to me if our poems have become   
part of infrastructure projects.
 
 
 
 

Translator's Note: First published on the occasion of World Literature Day 2013.