Choice is Voice


The above is a recording of the original text, Little Beasts, written in 2007. 

Tonight, I made three pieces out of the above. The first (A) is what I ran through Google translate (English to Malay). It has been edited to make it pleasing to me. The sense has changed, and I have embraced the sound element of Malay words. The second (B) is what I got after I ran it back through Google translate, again, edited to suit me. The third is me playing fast and loose, treating the text a bit like fabric where I’m armed with lots of tools and material (C).

This is a deliberate experiment to play with when it’s useful for words to be used literally, and how whim, ok, instinct, can lead a piece to a more interesting place which might reveal more of the original.

This recording shows A and B. I am not that keen on B so maybe stop listening after the Malay A. C, the third and preferred English-language mutation is shown below.


I cannot wait until I am (C – the preferred version)

Finally feeling the heat
My skin, look
My skin is as hard as the sun
Straight! Dig into the meat!
Separate the mouth – welcome to the Malaysian air –
just so

Sweat, ee!
Initially struggling, wriggling humanity
is quick-cleaned once trod on
Tired arms do not reach unwanteds:
drink magazines
body potato variety

butter    sea    salty    side dish

Oil Ministry on a limb of
polished nails. Bare feet
happy defiant
Precaution! My heart cares!
My sun, down with wave after wave
My equatorial heat is contaminated
My back is up against the world.
My eyes are closed.
I understand thin leaf oil.

Shining sea stretches out
– my eyes are closed –
my feet
shout, Wide! Spread!
Forest, whining-grining wedge-
s repercussion of light, shade and damp
behind me
I know small animals swim and crawl and climb in swamps
rub their little feet
together whether the same
And all the while I would be lying
Hot, heavy, patient-suppressed
Sweat, sweat
containing a four-pronged point: man in the world
Waiting cracks wishes
Cracks three thousand thunderstorms
with lightning

(c) Vera Chok 2013

Saya tidak boleh menunggu sehingga saya ada

Akhirnya rasa panas
kulit saya tidak sabar
Kulit saya keras berjemur
Selat menggali ke dalam daging
Mulut terpisah – selamat datang ke udara Malaysia –
hanya supaya

Peluh, pada mulanya berjuang kelembapan,
Cepat sekali jalan kecil bersih.
Lengan letih pihak tidak mencapai yang tidak diingini
majalah minuman
Badan macam kentang

Anggota badan Kementerian Minyak:
kuku berkilat, kaki terdedah
gembira dan ingkar
Langkah berjaga-jaga
ambil berat hatiku
matahari ku turun bersama gelombang selepas gelombang
haba khatulistiwa ku dicemari
Belakang saya menentang dunia
Mataku ditutup
saya faham daun kurus kelapa
laut terbentang bersinar di luar
kaki saya
meneriak berleluasa,
merengek hutan desak
kumandang cahaya, teduh dan lembap
semua di belakang saya.

Saya tau binatang kecil berenang dan merangkak dan memanjat di paya
Menggosok-gosok kaki kecil mereka
bersama-sama sama sama

Dan semua semasa saya akan berbohong
Panas, berat, sabar ditindas
Peluh, peluh
serampang empat mata titik berisi manusia di dunia
Menunggu retak dan berhasrat
Dari tiga ribu ribut petir saya
Guruh dan kilat

(c) Vera Chok 2013

Little Beasts (the original text)

I cannot wait till I am there

Finally the feel of heat on my impatient skin
To bask like an unscaly monitor on a hardened sun lounger
Slats digging into flesh
Mouth parted – coming up for air –
Just so

Sweat, at first struggling to bead against humidity,
runs clean tiny rivulets.
Arms over sides not reaching the unwanted props of magazines and drink
Browning like a buttered potato
Sea salted

Oily limbs, shiny nails, exposed feet happy and defiant
Precautions taken reluctantly
The sun pins me down with wave after wave of unadulterated equatorial heat
My back up against the world

Eyes shut, I take in the dry clackering of spindly palm leaves
the stretching ocean glinting beyond my toes
the rampant screetch,
the insistent whine of the jungle
pulsing light, shade and damp behind me.

I know the little Beasts that swim and crawl and climb in the swamps
Rubbing their little legs together

And all the while I’ll lie
Hot, heavy, indulgently oppressed
A sweaty, four-pronged fleshy human speck on the globe
Waiting for the crack and gasp
Of my 3 o’clock thunderstorm

(c) Vera Chok 2007

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