Khairani Barokka 69

Khairani Barokka


Today, high noon, I snap with camera phone
One dead of Lepidoptera: yellow, midnight,
Hint of emerald, chewed through by humble mites.

The dame lies on a wooden slat,
Wings still ruffled by wind,
And flattened onto Death, as though the Grim Reaper
Had seen the paint smear placed there by chance,
            “Here: tombstone for the nectar-fed”.

I wait for a friend’s pap results,
My muscles to soothe bright and easy,

Smush butterfly with a fingertip.

interview your lover about brute force

look in the other room.
i’ve left your discarded firearm
live with the safety off—
its presence presumptuously kissing failures,
no men pretending they didn’t know what fear was.

you’d drowned in drowning and adrenaline’s tight syrup.
in the weight of muscles,
in lies told to boys when taught to throw a punch.

i’d burrowed in the trough so long,
came out sick of a tunnel of punching bags
with familiar body measurements; you were on the sofa.

you’d looked blood’s sweltering pus in the face
like the old friend it was and said one more chance.

Khairani Barokka is an Indonesian writer and artist whose work has been presented in 13 countries. Okka’s received six residencies, as well as grants and award nominations. Her most recent books are Stairs and Whispers (co-editor), Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis Press, 2015), and Rope (Nine Arches Press, 2017); latest exhibitions were at SALTS Basel and the ICA. She can be found at and her twitter is @mailbykite.