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Collection Of Poems L.K. Ara

Drs. MM. Yohannes De Santo was born on the island of Timor, Indonesia, on January 27, 1963. A graduate of The Graduate School of Management PPM Jakarta, he studied English at the Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta. He currently lives in Yogyakarta, Indonesia where he is a lecturer in Business Ethics, Self Development, and Strategic Management at the ASMI Santa Maria Yogyakarta.
John is a regular contributor to the Educare Magazine, edited by the Indonesian Bishop Conference Jakarta.

As a bilingual (Indonesian and English) writer, John translates fiction as well as non-fiction. His translations have been published by noted publishers such as: : Kunci Ilmu – The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, 2002 – ISBN 979-3200-006; Bentang –The Priest’s Madona by Amy Hassinger, 2006 – ISBN 979-3062-2; Penerbit Kanisius – Mythology and Shaman by Levy Strauss, 1997 – ISBN 979-497-585-9; Kepelpress – Experience and Education by John Dewey, 2002 – ISBN 979-96230-4-9.

We appreciate John’s generosity in providing us with his sensitive translation of L.K. Ara’s poems for this page.

You may contact John for translation projects at:


Collection Of Poems L.K. Ara

Fort Rikit Gaib 1904

On a page of an old book
I found your picture.
A quiet hamlet
A pile of corps
A straight bamboo post
Withered as if sobbing.

Fort Rikit Gaib was conquered.
Its thorny bamboo fence broken.
The country’s warriors
Eliminated viciously by
van Daalen.

Men and women
The elderly and even children
All killed cruelly
Without humanity.

Yes, van Daalen did send an envoy
Proposing peace
But the warrior chiefs
Aman Linting and Reje Kemala Darna
Immediately refused.
In their hearts
Resilience flourished.
To die a martyr’s death
Is better than surrender.

(Banda Aceh, 29/1/2012)

The Surf

The breaking waves
keep calling
until we set foot on this place
in still twilight
follow the way
from paved to dirt road
to the ocean’s shore

Arriving at the open gateway
we stare across the Strait of Malacca
imagining ready war ships
two thousand widows
trained and faithful soldiers
defending the homeland
against Portugese and Dutch attacks

The ruins of the fort still stand
despite lack of care
peep holes
still open up to the sea
where the enemy came from
as we witnessed
more than 500 years ago.
As creeping roots
strangle the stony fort
as the moss grows thicker
on the walls of the fort
we now miss your courage.
Ahoy! Unsurpassed Admiral of the world
we have lost
our sense of heroism
our sense of dedication
our sense of loyalty.
We now praise opulence
possessions, rank and power
but the crashing waves
faithfully sustain
through time.
The surf inside us
won’t let us forget you, Admiral Malahayati.

(Banda Aceh, 11/1/12)


The stone awaits
I know
At times wearisome
Wandering feet
Leave you
I know

The stone awaits
I know
Until the tide comes
To console you
Until moss becomes
Your best friend
I know
The stone awaits.

I know
When you keep silent
Stabbed and stabbed again
The sun a broad knife
When you keep silent
Stabbed and stabbed again
The knife daylong loneliness
I know
Your profound stillness
A prayer
Arrives at utter quietness

(Banda Aceh, 26/11/11)

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