Dianty Ningrum


Western Politeness


What do you mean ‘do you have tissue’?
I have the tip of my blouse
crisp and forgiving
to wipe the stain of my relief
I have Forgiveness itself
for my ashamed hips the whole bottom
of me spitting consequences
like no less of a man–a female man I am
surrounded by cassava plants fences
squatting in the open field
I’m sorry if the water’s supposed to be clear
you see The God of Pristine has left our
village thirty years ago
for this we have no answer nor time
to mourn, dirts have been kind enough to stay
at the brim of our buckets and rivers.
Now your call echoes a few decades away
from across the cubicle, across the continent
Did you just cough inside my head?
What do you mean ‘excuse me’? this land
knows no sorry. I don’t recall growing up
being told to fold
my phlegm on an innocent tissue they said spit it
then spite it like decadence
like household affairs
spit and draw a prayer around it
with your heels like you mean it who knows
what it contains?
That stolen bit of areca nut
perhaps tuberculosis?
enduring, like a persistent lover
perhaps your hidden fascist?
a ball of hard Truth, a small protest
a whole revolution soft-swallowed
in your chest?






Two Laments


Yen ing tawang ono lintang
If there are stars in the sky

I would sew them
I’d lick them raw
who could owe
so much from
the world
aside from

mbulan ndadari
beauty is inescapable
what else I can do
I wish God stops
leaving us with great loves

Duh Gusti
O God

The next morning I’ll bury
you, little beauty, bury
your cries
we’ll take back every
beginning that ends

I should’ve come for
the stars
mothering is a debt
in this country
in this house

Cah ayu
little beauty

into your hair, everywhere you go they’d fall so
to find my way. How is this, our lives,        a secret race of
the other more? the night my uterus bled
a fissure of a new born, I came to know
unclothed and sore, as if no living thing has felt pain
those who lay down in this bed before      me those
and their forgotten bodies

full moon
is a lifetime of trial
but to knead the sky with these knuckles until my blood’s purple
making daughters beautiful, and start
from people who won’t desert us or drink from our blood

tresnaku sundhul wiyati
my love owns no boundary

my breast on my Mom’s maiden dress
that reddened nose elsewhere, I promise
will coalesce with the weight of a male’s ancient ego
prayer that begins with a man, every
in a man. Gusti Allah,

You instead, should have swallowed
but elders said it’s not like
now go, kiss the pavement now with your forehead and ask for mercy
a mother’s love’s foolish, her bosom scandalous
patience is legacy




Dianty Ningrum is from Indonesia. She is currently working towards a PhD at Monash University. Currently, she is based in Naarm (Melbourne).

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