Poems and Other Myths:

A collection of spoken word poetry by women from Asia.


Illya Sumanto


 I don't mind being a spinster
Spinning, twirling, whirling, swirling in a tornado of stars conquering the galaxy
Like a Sufi
Harmonizing the sacred spiral dance to celebrate the divine in me

I can twerk too
But I will first knock on the window of your altered state of
Before intruding your geopolitical utopia
With how my butt can really shake

I'd rather be a nun
And get myself thrown in jail for refusing to renounce the Dalai Lama
Than chanting the hypocritical words of the National Anthem  

I don't mind being a cat-lady
For I'm used to the spoor of piss of Self-proclaimed gods marking their Territory
I'd rather you take a piss on me
Than being married off to one.
Daddy said,
This is the land of our fathers, not theirs.
Use your womb as a weapon against the Enemy
We gotta maintain our votes !
Get it on and breed as many Buddhist babies
"We five and our 25"
You must not lose to over-fertile Muslim housewives.
But daddy.
I've fallen in love with a Muslim man whose anarchic nipple hair grew in random directions
Jesus looking Indian who inherited a slaughter house from generation to generation.
His favourite dish is a home-cooked Persian culinary concoction
Of casserole sized pieces of lamb
Red kidney beans
And mid-eastern preserved lemons
 I googled the recipe
For I don't mind cooking it although I'm pescetarian
I could've been a vegetarian
But I feel less attached to sea creatures.

He doesn't mind not eating meat when I'm around
 You know what makes this connection we have more profound?
My halal-Jesus-looking butcher is a wacky inflatable sky dancer
Whose arms flail like a winged sea cucumber in the deepest part of the ocean
He moves in erratic directions
-Just like his nipple hair
Eyebrows try to keep up
Peeks from behind a pillar somewhere with a creepy smile before he comes to get me
Let me dance with him please, daddy.
He can probably twerk too.


(Woman who died in childbirth)

"Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return"


I died on February 22nd 1924.
As I was born a worshipper,
I had lived powerless in the hands of fate to die in anger
so I swore upon my death
that it'd only make me stronger.

I saw my grandmother with her crooked, stained, reddish-black teeth, smiling in disbelief, 
as my body was carried home.
She chewed her bitter judgement of my dead body and spat a thick dark quid off her tongue
disgusted by my death
as if the agony of my birth wasn't afflicting enough.
I eyed the crowd 
Children running around not knowing what was going on, 
Nosy neighbours (one of them in a wheelchair)
 that would say 
"i will pray, for you" 
every time they don't agree with you.
Orang 100 showed up too- occupant of the 100th house, an isolated mad widow of this value-centered small town
Lit cigarettes on the lips of some familiar faces in the burning sun
they stood by, 
Analysing the plot breaking down the scenes of
 what, where, when, who, how and why 
With every bit of punctuation to engage in the story 
'intellectually' and emotionally-
"She will be placed with witches and whores in hell and be burnt for all eternity"

Because God created sexual desire in 10 parts; 
9 were given to me
and 1 to he
They said
 Prophet Muhammad saw women in hell were more than there were men

I'm definitely one of them 
to them i'm unpardonable , 
to me i'm unforgivable
That mortal sin 
I'm condemned for,  was   



i had loved too much. 
Too devoted that love became a cult 
I kissed his feet to make him
realise i was the 
most faithful 
the most obedient
 servant at after-midnight
who could cater for his needs
his lustful appetite  
I fasted in the day,                  
thinking of the other who fed him full, drunk, drifted away

Excuses were made up for the man who told me i was beautiful in the dark
hence I'm nocturnal 
dead in the day and resurrected at night -
only by his love

He was my first
But i wasn't his last
he told me i was a mistake- he would end it fast 
Fast enough that weeks became months, months became dormant 
But it was not a stillbirth.

On the stormy night of February 22nd 1924
The voice inside me told me "mother i can feel you there"
"Mother, I'm sorry.
I have your beautiful eyes, we can build our own traditions,
 Be a family"
I said softly, "Yes my child, I promise we'll be together but just not here."

I poured hot water onto me 
Girded a belt around my belly 
To abort this bastard baby 
To prevent her potential misery

I am Pontianak
This is my tragedy