On Being Released


On Being Released

Never counted the corridors, or hand-cuffed
days they threw you down, disarmed. Nor
held a gun in your life, and by the time they’d
done with you, your sharp hand had been
broken more than twice. You only ever
wrote poems, before—not after.

You love it now when the rain comes down
like a guerilla raid, the plenty and its dying in
such unsparing spray. Months and years barely
alive under corrugated iron: splitting seams in
the hot season, wan as opiation in the sopor of
the rains. Everyone seemed reprogrammed,
captor-captive in a mute guilt-making, each
the guardian of the others’ compulsion to
defeat. The drainpipes Morse-mad with
Yeats, and Yevtushenko.

Eventually some kind of history enters the
common yard. Good karma? fortune? Just
chance? Standing dumb-heroic in your
doorframe, blocking the cameras, let
loose into new life.
The interviewers who ask, How
did you survive all that dark time? You
smile at the past tense, keep the prison dogs
inside. And you, out here, you say—in the light?


                                                                                                (Yangon/Melbourne, 2012)

Martin Kovan

Author: Martin Kovan

Martin Kovan is an Australian poet and writer of prose fiction and non-fiction. He also works in academic Buddhist studies, ethics and philosophy, based at the University of Melbourne. He has spent some years in South Asia, including working inside Burma and neighbouring countries, before and during its recent democratic transition