16 Mei 2008

Isbedy Stiawan ZS's Poetry

You go down to the Valley

in your veil

as the sun crests the horizon

you go down to the valley

to the beginning of the story

the wine of your lips

makes the leaves flutter

and the river dances

wanting to embrace the rustle of your shoes

you were destined to be an angel

but you live your days alone

in the valley of all love

immortalised in a legend

this valley holds

the memories of all the pilgrims

who have no lover

: sad and alone

you understood

that i am a pilgrim

i will soon be gone

I have remembered

the terrible stories

now left behind or washed away

that people then

want to immortalise

Standing on Bukit Batu[1]

“don’t tell anyone about it

so they will look for

the secret

as far as the wide blue sea,”

you said

after the first creation

then we all went searching

in the leaves of old manuscripts

in the pages of books

in the lines of God’s word

to find out who

is behind all this?

“don’t say it,”

you stressed when

I almost

revealed the secret

then I stood in silence

on bukit batu

my face turned towards the sky

and I said,

“if you exist,

give me a sign!”

and then in a symbolic way,

through a drumming

in the sea in the mountains

in the forest

you sent that sign

“don’t say it,”

you ordered. so then

I wrote the secret

in fields

at random

just to

record your existence…

“don’t tell anyone about it,”

you said. so after that

I looked for you

in all the verses

that fill the pages

of these books. - textbooks,

history books,

and my blood vessels too –

“don’t tell anyone…”

Suffering Forest

but you must forget

all the things

you’ve been through

ignoring the past

does not mean

thinking about going home

after a long easy walk

like a bird in the sky

that forgets its nest

and just pauses to rest

on an electric cable

or a shadeless tree

and then

flies off again

in search of shade

where do you keep

your whole past

when the road home

is getting so dark?

lost amongst the artefacts,

the street names,

the river current,

and, you say,

the forests that used to be there

have written your age

on every strand of hair

covered in moss

- when you’re on a long journey


seems so far away

the village of your childhood

gets starker and starker

making you tremble

it confuses you:

“where am I?”

you whisper

the deep river

the suffering forest

never reach

inside themselves!

The Rain is Talking

i venture into the night

under soaking rain

and you cling

to the shophouse wall

like a statue:

unbending, rigid

time crawls by

too slowly,

as the rain


about halting


effortless love

breathe in the soaking rain

it’s like kissing

time. cold…

when will the rain stop?

i laugh,

the children come

from the traffic lights

hide behind the rain

beneath the dark of night

with shivering bodies


children abandoned

in this country

imagining home

remembering school

so far away

ah, the best thing to do

is huddle together

by the shophouse wall

until the rain subsides

and we move along

to where?

A Strand of Your Hair

give me a strand of your hair,

now. I will turn it into

a bridge to reach the clouds

after a season of disaster

and a cacophony of love

if you give me that strand

of your hair, and

i can pass beyond the clouds

then tomorrow at dawn

you will see me blossom

in the form of a rose

in a garden

you will come

on butterfly wings

- and make love -

Ceremony 48

i still remember

braided hair

an evening visit

the garden still quiet

i danced

welcoming your arrival

and I told you

“i fell in love

when I was still young.”

then the day sped past

like a stallion

so swift

and from its feet

billowed clouds of dust

my eyes your eyes

felt so intense

making me forget

the way there the way back

for years love has been brooding

forgetting the braided hair

the evening visit

my hair your hair

finally turning white

my cheek your cheek

becoming hollow

now in my head

dawns a twilight sun

bathed in light:


do you know

for how long

i have been tending it?

soon it will ripen

stay for a minute then leave

You Come Back to this Town

you come back to this town

a town filled with temples

and ever-present gods

like witnesses

“how many times

have you sinned today?”

does every beach, temple and

hotel seem to

grab you,

seize you?

The roar of the waves

An explosion

The mantra of the monks

on the sprawling



you sprinkle love

then you and he

frolic in the sand

“what can’t you get

beneath the sun?”

even in an isolated temple

you wouldn’t find a spear!

from kuta to sanur,

tanah lot to sangeh,

or kintamani to sukowati

just god just god

extending his hand

keeping you safe

There are no Signposts

there are no signposts

or names of dead-end streets,

so just follow the white line

and the roadside marker. till you get tired,


or breathless

“if you can no longer walk

wait on the footpath

until the day reveals itself

and you remember your address.”

there are no signposts

in the big wide world

be prepared to lose your way!

It’s Been Half a Century

from your eyes

i pluck a light

to guide me

to your house

is the sprawling garden

still there

for the flowers

in bloom



it’s been half a century

the garden has changed too

it’s filled with trees

flowers of all colours

: i want to stay

not just look

but pick them again

choose the buds

new stories bring

different hopes

in the garden

it’s been half a century

you plant

i reap…

- the past beckons -


chooses solitude

rather than stoning

finds a park

watching over a valley

centuries come

a deserted home


Remembering the Sea

she always stands by the window

on a golden morning

with a lazy breeze

and her spirits still high

her eyes sweep the yard

as if seeking her family story

in each of those

unresponsive trees

“there’s no story there”, she sighs

all memories have long been buried

as if reluctant to tell a story

even the trees where she hid her hopes

have no colour

“i used to write on their trunks

every time i encountered happiness

or a story that i extracted

from the niches of my day,” she whispers

she always stands by the window

gazing at the waves

that one day curdled

in her mind: the wave

that once raced to the city

swallowing all happiness

and since that day all her

stories vanished, did they drown?

since that day she no longer has any memories

she is an orphan and a vagrant:

she has no notes

only her eyes never sleep

she always stands by the window

- morning or night -

gazing out waiting for

a new story

on every leaf

but no story ever

emerges from the spray of the waves

because every time she thinks of the waves

(or the sea)

her heart pounds

as if to curse:

“did you take

everything I owned?”

she no longer has anything

or anyone, she is an orphan

frozen like a picture in a frame

until her hair turns white

akhir Agustus 2006


you were merely dazed

a little dumbfounded even

when he came to this village

(- you call it tiyuh[2] -)

bringing spices

from felds in a nearby island

then he talked at length about homesickness

‘it’s so long since i left the village

i’d almost forgotten

the road to the placenta burial ground

near the plantations of cloves, nutmeg

resin and coffee

where grandfather hid

from the soldiers chasing him

there’s no need to dwell on years past

of which only cracks now remain

not signifying anything

you recall

but every wanderer

keeps a charm

but every traveller

wants to be given a sign

but every adventurer

longs to go home

so let him gather longing

like a child collecting marbles

till his pockets bulge

does he not have a head

a place of many shadows

- and memories and keepsakes –

of the house where he was born

the river flowing with the blood of his mother

or a yard that plants names

because every wanderer

has a yard from the past

because every adventurer

has footsteps in his village

because every traveller

wants to die at the first step

so don’t chase away

the guest who bewitches you

as you say, it is always calm

in the embrace of the poet

even though your soul has been stolen


Translator: Pam Allen


Isbedy Stiawan ZS, kelahiran Tanjungkarang (Lampung) 5 Juni 1958, dan hingga kini masih menetap di kota itu. Karya-karyanya—puisi, cerpen, dan esai--dipublikasikan di berbagai media massa antara lain Kompas, Koran Tempo, Horison, Media Indonesia, Suara Merdeka, Republika, Suara Pembaruan, Jawa Pos, Jurnal Cerpen, Suara Karya, Nova, Sinar Harapan, Surabaya Post, Kedaulatan Rakyat, Bali Post, Pikiran Rakyat, Riau Pos, Lampung Post, Radar Lampung, Majalah Budaya Sagang, Jurnal Puisi, Majalah Sastra Tepak, Amanah, Annida, Sabili, Tabloid Fikri, Noor, dan lain-lain.

Kumpulan puisi tunggal antara lain Kembali Ziarah, Daun Daun Tadarus, Roman Siti dan Aku Selalu Mengabarkan (LSM Perempuan DAMAR, Bandar Lampung, Juli 2001), Aku Tandai Tahi Lalatmu (Gama Media, Januari 2003), Menampar Angin (Bentang Budaya, Oktober 2003), Kota Cahaya (Grasindo, Oktober 2005), Salamku pada Malam (Bukupop, April 2006), Laut Akhir (Bukupop, Januari 2007) dan Lelaki yang Membawa Matahari (Gama Media, April 2007).

Kumpulan cerpen yakni Ziarah Ayah (Syaamil, Mei 2003)., Bulan Rebah di Meja Diggers (Beranda, Agustus 2004), Dawai Kembali Berdenting (Logung Pustaka, November 2004), Perempuan Sunyi (Gama Media, Desember 2004), cerita anak Dongeng Sebelum Tidur (Beranda, September 2004), kumpulan cerpen Selembut Angin Setajam Ranting (LP Publishing House, April 2005), Seandainya Kau Jadi Ikan (Gramedia Pustaka Utama, Mei 2005), dan Hanya untuk Satu Nama (C/Publising Bentang Pustaka, Oktober 2005), Salamku pada Malam (Bukupop, 2006), Laut Akhir (Bukupop, 2007), dan Lelaki yang Membawa Matahari (Hikayat Publishing, 2007)..

Sejumlah antologi bersama juga memuat karya-karyanya antara lain Dari Negeri Poci, Resonansi Indonesia, Angkatan 2000, Horison Sastra Indonesia: Kitab Puisi, Hijau Kelon dan Puisi 2002 (Penerbit Buku Kompas, 2002), Puisi Tak Pernah Pergi (Penerbit Buku Kompas, Juli 2003), 20 Tahun Cinta (Senayan Abadi, Juli 2003), Wajah di Balik Jendela (Lazuardi, Agustus 2003), Anak Sepasang Bintang (FBE Press, 2003), Bunga-Bunga Cinta (Senayan Abadi, 2003), Jika Cinta… (Senayan Abadi, 2004), Cerita-cerita Pengantin (Galang Pres, Mei 2004), antologi monolog Sphing Triple X (Sinergi, Agustus 2004), Maha Duka Aceh (PDS HB Jassin, Januari 2005), Duka Atjeh Duka Bersama (Logung-Dewan Kesenian Jatim, 2005), dan Gerinmis (Dalam Lain Versi), Logung Pustaka dan DKL (April 2005).

Pernah diundang ke berbagai pertemuan sastra di Tanah Air, juga Malaysia dan Thailand. Kini mengabdikan diri di Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) Kota Bandarlampung, dan Ketua I Bidang Sastra dan Teater Dewan Kesenian Lampung periode 2007-2010. Diundang baca puisi pada Utan Kayu Literary International Biennale 2005 dan Ubud Writers and Readers Festival tahun 2007..

[1] Translator’s note: Bukit Batu Rigis is a mountain in Lampung province, Sumatra

[2] Translator’s note: tiyuh is the word for village in the language of Lampung, the home province of the poet

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