Saturday, November 23, 2013

Burma on CIA World Fact Book -

Burma on CIA World Fact book -

Where I was the day JFK was assassinated -- by Kyi May Kaung

Where I was Nov 22, 1962, the day JFK was assassinated --

I was in the second year of college in Rangoon.  7 July 1962 when the Burmese military junta first shot at unarmed civilians, had just taken place.  We were living in a small house that my mother later sold, in a back lane near the Inya Lake bund, where in 1988 a lot of people would be hit/clubbed by the Lon Htein and drown among the water hyacinths, and the White Bridge would become the Red Bridge.

Our family friends the Evertons were JFK's ambassador to Burma.  I listened to the live radio broadcast of the state funeral from VOA on a small short wave radio that my parents had brought back from the UK in the 50s.  We did not hear very much, but I remember the clip clop of the riderless horse's hooves -

Later John Scott Everton and Mrs Margaret Everton showed us photos of the memorial service they had held for President Kennedy on the small terrace overlooking Inya lake.

Shortly thereafter, Dr Everton, who had been appointed by JFK himself, was recalled by the Lyndon Johnson administration and an ex-US Army general appointed, on the grounds, we heard, that an army man could better talk to the Burmese junta.

Well, 50 years later, you see how wrong-headed that was!

Kyi May Kaung


Yesterday, Nov 22, was the 5oth anniversary of the JFK assassination --

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Prayer --

For all of you and your loved ones this Thanksgiving season -- The Prayer -- with Celine Dion and Josh Groban -- playing the piano is composer/songwriter David Forster - who wrote this lovely Prayer -

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Watch that Burmese military -

What or who is this thing called "myanmar?"

John Pohl:   Who is "Myanmar" (the subject that 'must choose', as this presentation claims)? I think it's time to question the basic assumption believed by so many 'Burma experts', that there is a *nation* "'Myanmar", while "Myanmar" is actually a military driven nation building (or empire building) project based on civil war, ethnic cleansing and forced assimilation. Remember the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia?

via Facebook Maung Zarni --
presentation was by David Dapice in Harvard -- 11-20-2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doris Lessing, obituary podcast -- The Guardian -

Cracking up --the late Doris Lessing on her latest book --

"Women are basically conservative, I don't mean every woman is, I mean a general trend.  .  .  .  I don't know why people get so upset.  First, they get upset by words like 'cleft' or 'squirts'"  .  .  .

In her last novel, she described a world inhabited by only women, whom she called Clefts, until men "a younger species"called Squirts, came along.

I found this so very amusing -- I wish she could have lived forever.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

White Owl of Wisdom and of Healing - A Poem by Kyi May Kaung

White Owl of Wisdom and of Healing:  A Poem by Kyi May Kaung.

The Poet is arguing with his mother
he is saying, I can't do it
I can't do it
the woman is so fat!

The one I really want is--
This was the pretty girl who came to play chess
with the poet who was born with weak legs and has TB.

But his mother will not hear of it.
Could not overhear what the mother said but maybe
she said something like this:

That woman has money.  20 million, 30 million 60 million she is from a commercial family
she can look after you.

But she is so fat! 
I am a poet of delicacy
it would be OK if she only
had some redeeming features
like pretty eyes but No

she's a rolling pot of lard
already at what is it 25? she looks like she's 50,60.
And oh the voice!
Like molten lead poured down my ears
like cracked--glass.

Mother don't make me
sleep near that every night
I would feel as if
I am wallowing in a pond of tallow
I'd rather
take my own life.

But his mother like most mothers won't hear of it.


When I was growing up the lovely bright attractive little girl came often to visit
with her parents
she'd jump on and off
the single step from the shrine room to our
upstairs veranda.

She had so much brain they joked
it filled her little round head and her bulging little forehead

so that, they said, when she fell over
she always fell forward.

Later that shrine room
became the scene of one or two
unwelcome touchings before
I learned, how to protect myself.

You must stand close to the perpetrator and have witnesses so he can't stretch his arm to stab you.

My parents were not able to teach me karate and shortly after, my father died and my mother
all her life terrified of being left alone without a servant
did not fire the serpent.

But we moved and in the crowded house the servant
could not come into the house to molest me.

--Fast forward another decade and a half
how I wish I could to that in reality.

When I get back from 8 months, in Poland, the young lady
with the prominent forehead and the super IQ

comes to tea one day and she is so beautiful
she is so soignee
her hair is swept up in a French roll

she touches my brooch bought in Poland
with the black design on it
made with a  branding iron
burning hot searing
scarring the soft
white pine

Two weeks later she is dead.

The rumor was she killed herself because her mother was having an affair, with the poet she was in love with.

I don't know.

At the "after the funeral" daytime wake
there were so many flowers a big bouquet
of purple cattleya.

I asked if the professor her father was coming.

Her mother a vivacious woman said, "He won't
he has no courage."

Fast forward another 15 years:

I am in Calendrelle, Maryland.  Joe K.H.
and Scallion Shoot are relating to me
all their troubles with the Physics professor
who wanted to visit, but Joe told him:

It's not a good time to visit.

They are telling me--We have adolescent children
and   you can't trust that man
and you can't trust that woman and you can't invite them over together
because they are no longer together

He's with a Russian woman.
Later he was with a Vietnamese, a Cambodian, a Caucasian and an Indian woman, who painted these big portraits of the Buddha, all blue, I don't know why.

Scallion Shoot said there is some credence to the theory
that the child killed herself
due to the mother and the poet.

When we went on home leave while Christianne
was still alive
the mother was going out on a date with the poet,
Scallion Shoot said, she was so concerned about her appearance.

Is my makeup right?
Is my hair OK?
My ear rings
the flowers
in my hair?

Shall I change my longyi
do I look better in blue or in mauve?

Scallion Shoot told me other stories,
some of which I can repeat
some of which I cannot

The Prof. wanted to stay longer, they told me.

But in the end, Ko Toe took care of it.


Oh, he went into the guest room
to get his fiber glass skis to go skiing
in Montana, and in doing so he accidentally kicked
that heavy rug over the heat vent.

And in the morning, the Prof. was actually blue with cold
I mean BLUE.
He was shivering and his lips were blue.

After breakfast he left.

We call it "Big Toe's Revenge on the Professor for making Eyes at his Sisters."

Jump back from there 20 years to 1962.

The Institute has been closed for 4 months
they are giving us re-education classes
a.k.a. brainwashing--
this history lecturer just stood up
fat woman also and said
"Are we going to have two histories then--the Truth and the Party's version, specially written?"

In the asbestos ceilings of the Eco. Inst.
there are big jagged holes where the students went up to hide
the army treated them like the proverbial enemy
used live ammunition
and blockaded the University for 4 months flat
plugged the drains and starved
the students out.

It was after they'd cleaned up physically
that they started the delicate job
of washing brains, first taking them out
and photographing them.

In 1976 after the U Thant ah yay a khin
I ran upstairs about 5 PM to fetch
a book I had forgotten
to prepare
for the next day's
Eco. History lecture.

A great white owl with a wingspan, as wide as my two arms both outstretched
swished silently over my head
and flew out the open black door.

The breeze its wings agitated
created swept up my fringe

It was so silent.
I have never experienced anything that Silent.

I am sure it was the combined ghosts of all the dead students.

I am sure when it flew past like that
inches over my head
it laid an egg like a bomb
into my hair.

And now here is that egg hatching, Garudas as well as Owls, making, such an infernal noise, these dinosaur hatchlings.

And here are you on the other side of the world, saying, Go to bed.  Go to bed!  You'd better sleep.
You need to sleep.

And here's to the White Owl and to all the poets, sane and insane
to Christianne and everyone
wronged by their mothers
and even all the parents
good dead and ugly
and even evil.

May you rest in Peace
may you reach

Copyright Kyi May Kaung 11-14-2103

Note:  Characters are fictional or fictional composites--there is no one on one correspondence between a character represented here and a real person.  They are used in a symbolic manner.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

US Merchant Marine Academy - King's Point, NY

I am neither recommending not not recommending - just informational -

A Theory of Hearts and Lemons - a poem by Kyi May Kaung

A Theory of Hearts and Lemons by Kyi May Kaung

They say
like lemons
you'll be sucked dry
some will come back further
to dice and mince your skin
removed your zest

to flavor cakes and pies.

Some will make you into jam
and preserves.

A week after they broke up
the maid says
she came back
to take some things
she must have still had
the key

she eyed the two ripe lemons on the tree
she took the nice stainless steel pans Mr Joe gave Mr Tint - she plucked the two ripe lemons
I thought she was going to
put the lemons in the house
instead she took them to her car.

I said:  She's lost the man already
maybe she's trying to take
as many of the material things
as she can.  She's lost him already.

Shortly after we moved whole family
to San Francisco.

Fifteen years ago the sister the model and the standard of beauty
came to my house where I was already gone
Boat Boat told my other relative who told me
the sister who never liked me looked at my mother's prize
Tan Chay Yan dendrobiums blooming in front of the house
which in the past even I was not allowed or did not dare to pick
and zwee, plucked a blossom, and put in in her hair I hear

In the past Mother picked her orchids
only when invited to visit
the first family
it was harvested -- for Daw Kitty's funeral by someone else.

Even the orchids.

That's why I hate power.

In America bad cars with messed up insides
are called "lemons"  there's even a Lemon Law for if
you become a victim

there's Megan's Law to report
on sexual predators living in your
neighborhood  still things happen.

I could not read far into The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
it was so painful.

But in the end the soil not the women
married to or somehow related to
power   will win

the beautiful woman with the sad face

carrying a chip on her shoulder as she's not the daughter of another kind of first family
she was the daughter of
a concubine--concubines plentiful in the Moulmein taipan families

I saw her half-brother from the first family
quite a different face a handsome confident face
a face ready
to take on the world.

She resented the patriarch father in law

who trimmed his toe nails with an enormous file used for
trimming wood

I said be careful
I've read diabetics need to be careful any wound
may result in a lost leg

I kept my distance

She resented the old man
on cemetery festival days she brought
two or three under-ripe guavas from her garden
as hard as stone

her sons and all the teenagers
ate all the pao tse I brought

I never met a woman so rich and so scared
of being poor and they have the gall that side of the family

to tell me I only talk of money.

You talk of what you don't have.

So let's squeeze a little more lemon juice
into all those old wounds
and pep them up again with some good ole pain.

Only Mongoose swinging from a tree jumping up and down
with blue plumbago blossoms stuck by their hairy
calyxes to both eyebrows

sings off key just like his father  singing Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy--

sings equally off key

"Lemon tree very pretty
and the lemon flower is sweet
but the fruit of the poor lemon
is impossible to eat."  (Harry Belafonte)

And here is the wife of the man with the long face
thone lone ta taung
pronouncing lemon limon in Hispanic

and here are even   lemon tarts and
lemon curd  a taste for them picked up
in Deltham, London.

The curd made with egg yolks and lots of sugar
no doubt tasty
but now I am reduced to
talking about them.

"I can't even" the writer  dying of cancer says
"even have my last meal."

In the end all we have is the same life
even if it's a lemon sometimes
but not always.  All we can do is taste the lemon
taste the tart lemon.

I never saw a child like that who loves lemons--
as soon as we arrive
at the Westernized Chinese restaurant  I go
to the bucket of lemon pieces
near the soda fountains

Khaliffe smiles when he see me bringing them.
Ah ha!  Mommy is busy strapping Coretta into her chair  Dadda is paying for the food.
Grandma is feeding me forbidden foods on the sly

At dinner, his mother nearly screams What did you have??  Why aren't you eating??  What did you give him??

I say honestly, I did not give him anything.

(I just left -- a half full can of cashews on the table at his eye level while I was reading -- of course
he polished it off, just like the Peak Frean biscuits just like --)

My dentist's sister dispenses advice and desk receptionist's wisdom:
Whatever happens between your grandchild and yourself -- keep it a Secret.
Maybe the next day they will discover what he ate-- but then it's too late you are on the plane or train--
look at this (she shoves a photo at me which I hardly look at)  He's too small for his age?  K said as soon as she saw him, But why is he so small??

And here is this big butt  small head woman
swaying her buttocks as she advances to
give me the crocodile writer a lesson
in swimming writing.

She goes to the cafeteria in that radio station from truly hell looking out on the swimming pool of the residential building next door  men and women sunning themselves in warm weather
in scanty clothing

she pulls  a handful of puffed up very yellow corn chips
out of a plastic bag

she says, I don't eat regular meals any more.
Is that a good thing? - This is the same transgendered "woman" who stole or tried to steal my two great scoops

once when the refugee camp Hwaykhaloke was still burning - and Ellen Karen whom I'd met at a conference they didn't want me to go to, and tried to sabotage --called me to say, It's burning.  They think it's the DKBA that has attacked--

Big butt laying the puffs or chips on the formica table
in a pyramid shape:
This is how you write--

then she sweeps up the puffs or chips contemptuously as if they personify my writing
puts them in her hippo mouth and starts munching.

I find this so hilarious I travel the world telling this story.

I told this to Y. Snaing as we walked to the Museum
along Doi Suthep Road and Ninmarhayman spelled several different ways there is no standard transliteration.

So copy editor dear what you saw or say you saw is as good a guess as mine

and anyway, the person who writes the history
always, I mean ALWAYS
the last word.


Copyright Kyi May Kaung

Monday, November 11, 2013

Testing the cows, to mother the bulls - from James Michener's Mexico

Testing the cows, to mother the bulls for the bullring - from James Michener's Mexico -

The testing that day was joyous, with the corral lined with beautiful women, and the hot Toledo sun making the dust golden as the furious cows kicked it aloft as they attacked their tormentor Veneno (Poison).  When he finished testing the cows with his sharp pic--for it was through his mother's line, not the seed bull's, that fighting bulls gained courage, he passed them along to the matadors, who played them with capes, and as each animal left the corral, bleeding a bit from the shoulders, where Veneno had stabbed them, the foreman cried, "Number 131.  Very brave!" or "Number 132.  Cautious, frightened of the horse."  The latter would be raised for beef, but she would not be allowed to serve as the mother of a Palofox bull.

-- James Michener, Mexico, p.  39.

My show-stopper poem Pele - (Pele is a volcano in Hawaii)

© Kyi May Kaung

So many years I lie
dormant but not dormant
alive not sleeping
rumbling at night deep down
my insides corroded
anger and gastric juices
nightmares, haunting.

I can stand no more
I erupt blow my top off
it’s like a bomb.
I belch rocks and fire and smoke
red hot fountain, summit of the
mountain, gone.

My blood liquid magma hot enough
to melt rock solid into liquid
flows down viscous my flanks
coagulating.  Cooling flowing slower
losing red angry glow – growing
grayer blacker – still I cover everything
in my path – waves of pleated porous
sponge, piled up folds – how comical to
see you run – ahead – fear gripped
while I hiccup gases, shower you with
ashes, you can hardly
run, faster than I go
no longer can you laugh – vainglorious

at my power – all the flowers, all the
prayers – the scented
water, are useless now
run – as fast as you
I engulf forever – your body empty mold
in my flow, my folds –
breadfruit in
stone oven – you lie preserved exactly as
you fell
destroy create
create destroy.  enfold remold.  Pelé her mate
flat footed
albatross, so different from
his legend
in the

Into the sea I fall curlicues
of red hot glass, nature’s hand
abstract brooches, swirling ears
queries, paisley mangoes –

Water at once you try to put me out
I steam I sizzle —
still red hot inside crusty old outside
I dive still hot – explode under the surface
sequences – all my evil
gases spent I tumble down continental
shelves –

cover living coral living bone
break down into pebbles
black sand –

Never before have I seen
a black beach --
you lie white bodied
beached whale come up for
a breach
birth.  Don’t die, don’t die
don’t die on me, now –

the yellow tang fled the boiling
waters – return in droves
spawn over
me –

To the black sand you float
coconut, wave borne
wave foams – breaks
recedes –
you have your husk, your
your built in
float –
rat tail of your
points outward – horizontal
the Pacific from whence
you came –

Inside I know
you are hard nut to
crack – holding white flesh
small sweet interior
ocean – murmuring
sad stories
forever –

and inside your heart
porous, tasteless
   embryo of
   coconuts to

you root –
you grow into a tree
living off
of me –
your fronds catch the
breeze – you flower, you
fruit – drop more
the sea.

How can black sand not love
the coconut tree?

Elizabeth Bishop's poem - The Art of Losing

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Pablo Neruda's Rangoon poem - translated by Alistair Reid -

Rangoon, 1927

I came late to Rangoon.
Everything was already there --
a city
of blood,
dreams and gold,
a river that flowed
from the savage jungle
into the stifling city
and its leprous streets,
and a white hotel for whites,
and a golden pagoda for the golden people.
That's what 
went on
and didn't go on.
Rangoon, steps stained
by the spitters
of betel juice.

Translated by Alistair Reid

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The original language of the Buddha himself --

Here - Magadha - or Maghadi Prakit - the language spoken by The Buddha and some damn fool "scholar" tells me "Magadha was the language of the dogs --"

you bet - some Burmese are FOOLS.

Read this - Chinese political prisoner hid a cry for help in a Halloween export item

Going home to Russia - good place to be from -

My mother escaped from Russia - blog

You tell me - a poem by Dr. Kyi May Kaung

You tell me --

(After Faiz Ahmed Faiz as translated by Naomi Lazard)

If you just signed a peace accord
on a scrap of paper
but you didn't stop shooting
and you didn't stop
rape as a weapon of war,
how will there be peace?
You tell me.

If you continue using fossil fuels
and credit cards and going out shopping shopping
while China owns all the national debt
and may one day pull the rug out from under you
how will you climb out of the debt hole with a high ceiling
as a sovereign country?
You tell me.

If you continue speaking in tongues such as rent-seeking for plain old corruption, and your debt has moved from one account to the other, but is still 11 billion, how do you propose the economy will take off?
You tell me.

If you released hundreds of political prisoners
but still arrest people to use as bargaining chips
when will foreign countries lose patience?
You tell me.

If you keep inviting FDI and FDI
and still can't get
your own shit together
and all your bureaucrats in all your ministries
are still trying to Increase regulations to get more baksheesh or tea money,
how will you streamline the economy?
You tell me.

If you still keep grabbing land
screwing your laborers literally and figuratively
and they are crying out as just before the French Revolution
what will the future be,
how will you make things better?
You tell me.

If the advisers tell you to reduce your money supply, or at least don't increase it so fast, and you can't because you need quite simply to buy support
how will you battle inflation?
You tell me.

If your karmic misdeeds have accumulated
at compound rates since 1962
and you have tried to compensate
think you can compensate
by throwing rose petals at Gandhi's grave
receiving a gift of his statue in a transparent plastic or glass cage
- or something like retrieving the massive bell
sunk in the river 300 years--is
a good use of money
while people are starving,
how do you think the trap door of hell can remain shut

if you yourself prop it open
with your booted feet?

You tell me.

Copyright K.M. Kaung.

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--