Convenience and inconvenience
have nothing to do with the on-off switch.

Other towns may be in a blackout,
but I’ve got the how-do-you-do U Htun Lwin
by my side the whole day.

It’s an example shot by an arrow,
with an aimless youth,
with a wind-blown flag.

I’m illuminated by the stars in the dark;
no need to sing “My Full Moon”
in a weepy voice.

The scene that ends with the police arresting the police
is still to come.

The Burmese Army was founded with thirty men,
so they can do without you.

I don’t have time to look up at the donor on the tent pole;
the protest rallies are going round and round like novitiates on horseback.

In times of crisis,
my backpack is my office.

In the street, you people keep running straight into the people
who like to talk about the people on the street.
No wonder the country has fallen by the roadside.

If you can tell what’s let go
from what’s fallen off,
this poem can end right here
or resume.

Lynn Moe Swe
April 26, 2015
Translated from the Burmese by Kenneth Wong


“How-do-you-do U Htun Lwin” is a reference to the meteorologist Dr. U Htun Lwin, who usually begins his broadcasts with “How do you do?”

“My Full Moon” (Maung La Pye Wun) is a well-known love song from a bygone era.

The modern Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) was founded by the thirty comrades, led by Suu Kyi’s father General Aung San.

Young boys heading to the novitiation ceremony are decked out in finery and paraded around on horseback on the way to the monastery.