Khairani Barokka

poem for r.

Listen to Audio Version.

lightning strikes the sky
for women.

it skins clean air
to show earth's mantle:
no place
where purity lies
without danger,
a mouthful
of alarm,
feet gone to
in one dead blink,

at the drop of a
minor squall.

breasts on a statue
by the herb garden
dampen as its face
grits harder stone
fangs for protection.

horizon is droplets
of water now,
fool statue–
each ounce of
rainfall a woman.
each cloud a woman.
each ant trapped
in dirt's refuge
a woman.

nothing exists
that did not
escape from us,
didn't force us
to choose, quick,
what elements
soaked or dry
in forest and city,
desert and bedroom,
tundra and courthouse,
field and billow that
we as statue, raindrops,
insects, toenails,
vapour and lightning
wished to escape.

* * *


Listen to Audio Version.

In the houses they live in afterwards, there is the ghost of a framed shelter, within the belly—one she'd laid pliantly to rest, to set things aloft, first setting them alight. This spirit rests with the olive oil on the kitchen counter, and sometimes with the spinach and sambal, resting in the bowl painted hot with red birch trees and coloured winds snaking double round them. Air fed with exhales, the pair carry the bowl from rented vessel to rented vessel of their courtship made solid, like the promise of freedom, like a child they knew shouldn't want to be just yet, to live here now.


Khairani Barokka (Jakarta, 1985) is a writer, poet, artist, PhD candidate, and (self-)advocate. Okka is the writer/performer/producer of Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee, a deaf accessible solo show, has presented work in nine countries, and is published in anthologies and journals. She is co-editor of forthcoming anthology HEAT (Buku Fixi Publishing, 2016). Her first book as sole author will be published by Tilted Axis Press in 2016. To see more of her work go to