excerpted from "The Cat Sits On A Palm Tree"
When March comes, a frog will bite a snake in the neck,
And drag its corpse into the rice paddy.
A tiger will lie down so a pig can lick its fur.
A ball of rice will swallow a ten-year-old child.
An eighty-year-old man will be eaten by a dozen persimmons.
A chicken and a jug of wine will swallow a drunk.
A trap will crawl inside an eel.
A band of grasshoppers will pursue the carp.
The seedlings will jump up and eat the cows.
The grass will lie in wait for the water-buffaloes.
The chicks will harass the hawk.
A munia will chase and crack the pelican's head.
The little palm-nut are streaked by veins.
You are studying close to home now, but soon,
You'll be studying far away.
I married you when I was thirteen.
By eighteen, I already had five children.
In public, I'm still considered to be a pretty woman,
But at home, I already have five children with you.
My body is not inferior to hers,
But being the second wife, I'm laid aside.
Each night she gets the bed, she locks the door,
While I'm in the front room, lying on my side, on this straw mat.
And in the morning she yells: "Hey, Second, get up!"
And get up I must, to slice the potatoes, to mash the lentil.
It's all because my parents were poor.
That's why I slice potatoes, mash lentil.
Woman: If King, father, mother, husband, and wife
Are all sitting on a boat which is sinking
During a storm, who would you save?
Man: Standing under the vast sky, I won't lie.
The King, I'll carry on my head;
Father and mother, on my two shoulders;
And you, sweet wife, swim to me;
With my two hands, I'll save the boat.
Chastity is worth more than gold.
From my ex-husband to you, that's five men.
As for my history of furtive love,
A hundred have lain upon my belly.
Three years at this outpost,
Guarding by day, nights spent
On public works.
Slashing bamboo and chopping wood,
The bad food, who do I complain to?
Complain to the ju-jube and apricots.
Complain to the truc bamboo and ironwood.
In the clear water of the well, a fish spashes free.
It took a newly-dug canal
For the French ship to run.
If you love me then love me.
Don't pester me with questions of faith or trust.
I can't shoot a high-flying goose,
And a fish far from shore I can't catch.