What you’re touching me with however you like,
Where this is going, I’ve already got a pretty good idea.
I’m no rocket scientist,
But it’s already fairly clear
What this groping means…
Damn the education I got.
I was taught to count, type, do foreign language,
Office management and administration.
But they forgot to teach:
What if you’re grabbed from behind by your boss,
Then what am I supposed to do!
Now don’t just grab me however you like.
When not even my boyfriend would be as bold as that.
I already know clear enough where you’re going.
When you brush my tits,
I know what that means…
They taught me to hate sin,
But they forgot to teach me
How to look for a job.
They taught me lifestyle,
With accessories that don’t come from the environment,
That are controlled by the bosses,
Make up, air conditioner,
Synthetic vitamins, tonic,
Every kind of soda and a school diploma,
Education tied me
To their markets, to their capital.
And now that I’m grown up,
Where else am I going to run,
If it ain’t to the world of the bosses?
Don’t grab me however you like.
I’m no intellectual,
But I know enough,
All the work on my desk
Is going to head in that direction.
Don’t, mister, don’t!
Don’t grab me however you like!
The money you slip into my bra
Is my education diploma.
Your fat belly
Presses against my stomach.
Your foul smelling mouth
Kisses my mouth,
As if everything you do
Is just perfectly normal.
Every member of the community helps you.
They all kiss your ass.
They spread my legs wide
While you climb over my body.
10 July 1975
Poem on a Young Woman and the Boss (Sajak Gadis dan Majikan), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 30.
We are the stuttering generation
who’ve been treated like children by an arrogant generation.
We haven’t been given official education
in relation to justice,
because we’ve been brought up to not get involved in politics,
and haven’t been taught about the basics of the legal system.
We find it hard to see a person’s true character,
because we haven’t been taught about the soul or about psychology.
We don’t get an explanation based on clear thinking,
because we haven’t been taught philosophy or logic.
Aren’t we supposed
To understand all of that?
Have we only been prepared
To become tools?
This is the average picture
of youth graduating from high school,
young people nearing adulthood.
The basis of our education is obedience,
not exchanging ideas.
School learning is rote learning,
and not learning how to explain something.
The basis of justice in relationships,
and understanding of how humans behave,
as groups or as individuals,
isn’t considered a subject worth studying or testing.
The reality of the world is only dimly visible.
We can’t connect all the signs,
which are visible everywhere.
We are angry with ourselves.
We resent what the future holds.
we just enjoy our ignorance and comfort.
As we stutter,
all we can do is buy and consume,
without being able to create.
We are not able to lead,
rather all we can do is rule –
just like our fathers.
Education in this country is oriented to the West.
Over there children are prepared
to be the tools of industry.
With their industry that rolls on endlessly,
But here we’re prepared to become tools of what?
We just become the tools of bureaucracy!
And bureaucracy has become bloated,
no use at all –
parasites in the trees.
Darkness. All I can see is darkness.
Education doesn’t provide any light.
Training courses don’t provide any jobs.
Darkness. My agony is darkness.
The people are living in unemployment.
What’s happening all around me?
Because we can’t work it out,
it’s easier for us to run and hide in dope poetry.
What is the meaning of all these complicated signs?
What does this mean? What does this mean?
Ah, in drunkenness,
a blood splattered face
is going to look like the moon.
Why do we have to put up with living like this?
A person with the right to a medical degree,
is thought of as an educated person,
without being tested on their knowledge of justice.
Meanwhile, if tyranny runs rampant,
he doesn’t say a word,
because his job is just to give needles.
What the hell? Are we going to continue being silent?
are just considered decorations for ceremonies,
while the law is stabbed in the back again and again.
are just regarded as plastic flowered,
while people go broke and corruption runs wild.
We’re inside a kaleidoscope
that is magic and inscrutable.
We’re imprisoned in a fog that befuddles.
Our hands reach out grasping for something to grab.
And when we miss,
we hit and scrape –
at thin air.
We are the stuttering generation.
Who have been treated like children by the arsehole generation.
Life force has been replaced by lust.
Enlightenment has been replaced by repression.
We are the dangerous generation.
Penjambon, Jakarta 23 June, 1977
Poem for Young People (Sajak Anak Muda), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 18.
Taking a drag on a fat cigar
Gazing over Great Indonesia
Listening to 130 million people,
And in the sky –
Two or three businessmen squat down –
And shit on their heads.
The sun comes up
And the sun goes down
And all I can see are eight million children
But my questions
Slam into the desks of bureaucrats like a traffic jam,
And the blackboards of educators
Who are cut off from the problems of life.
Eight million children
Cram down one long road,
With no options
With no trees
With no shady places to rest,
With no idea of where they’re going.
Suck in the air
Full of deodorant spray,
I see unemployed graduates
Covered in sweat along the highway;
I see pregnant women
Queuing for pension money.
And in the sky:
The technocrats sprout
That the country is lazy
That the country has to be developed,
Must be “upgraded”,
Made to fit technology that’s imported.
Mountains tower skyward.
The sky a festival of colors at sunset.
And I see
Protests that are pent up
Squeezed under mattresses.
But my questions
Bang into the foreheads of salon poets,
Who write about grapes and the moon
While injustices happen all around them,
And eight million children with no education
Gape at the feet of the goddess of art.
The future hopes of the nation,
Stars swirling in front of their faces,
Below neon advertisements.
The hopes of millions of mothers and fathers
Meld into a gaggle of clamoring voices,
Become a reef under the surface of the ocean.
We have to stop buying foreign formulas.
Textbooks can only provide methods,
But we ourselves have to formulate our condition.
We have to come out into the streets,
Go into the villages,
See for ourselves all the indicators
And experience the real problems.
This is my poem,
A pamphlet for a time of emergency.
What is the point of art,
If it’s cut off from the suffering around it
What is the point of thinking
If it’s cut off from the problems of life.
ITB Bandung 19 August 1977
This version of Poem for a Cigar (Sajak Sebatang Lisong) comes from State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 12.