Mountain Tour, Kyaukme by Eleanor Beeby

today's poem vertical

Mountain Tour, Kyaukme

‘That would be a new helmet in Austria!’
You guffawed as Kyaw salvaged his helmet
from the Monsoon-heavy earth.

‘This is Myanmar’ Kyaw spat;
adjusting his leather apron held together with string,
joking it was there to protect him from bullets.
I knew it was there to protect him from the wind
that murdered his sister when she was thirteen.
You were fascinated by the General.
His swagger;
and the badges on each side of his neck
glinting dully like dead eyes.
The shoulders only a coloniser could wear.

Lost in the childish thrill
of regiments and rocket launchers
and the crushing
of ‘rebels’.
You laughed at Kyaw’s pleas to leave,
still piling tomato slices into your hateful mouth.
I grabbed you by the cuff of your North Face jacket
and dragged you from the café
clutching the mountainside,
only thin bamboo poles between it and the inconceivable
space below.
Grease glinting off your hateful mouth,
lips flapping like the neck of an old hot water bottle.

And when Kyaw showed you the photographs of babies
folded into torn
dark red and wet.
The dribble of blood
a cenotaph
beneath the nose
of their dust-smeared mother.
An elderly man with his limbs twisted backwards.
Farmers slaughtered and dressed up in fatigues.
You shrugged your shoulders and stated
‘War is War’.


Eleanor Beeby is a Belfast based poet. Her work explores the liminality between lived and universal experience through the lenses of feminism, mental health and international human rights. Her work has been featured in publications such as The North, The Moth and Wordlife. She is currently working towards a career in International Development and started her life in Northampton, moving to Manchester before travelling across and living in various places across South and South-East Asia.

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