In Remembrance: K Za Win – Poet

Dear Father,

the River, whose stomach 

was cut open,  

has declared war 

on our tiny house on the bank, hasn’t she?

Right in front of the house 

you must be looking out for someone 

who will help you with 

embankment poles

to straighten the river,

to fill her holes with 


The poem moves from the picture of life at home to much wider themes about authoritarian power structures, corruption and inequality.

A thief is 


A thug is 

armed to the teeth.

If thieves are ungovernable,

if thugs are ungovernable, 

what’s the point of government? 

Whatever happens to the jungles

whatever happens to the mountains 

whatever happens to the rivers 

they don’t care. 

They love the country 

just the way they love to grate a coconut, 

from inside out, 

for coconut milk.

It was signed: 

Yours ever,

K Za Win 

Cell 1, Section 10

Thayawaddy Prison 

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