from Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror


I am writing this poem
               about the 1965 massacre
      of Indonesians by Indonesians

which in an article ten years later
               I could not publish
      except in Nottingham England with

a friend Malcolm Caldwell who has since
               himself been murdered
      no one will say by whom but I will guess

seeing as this is
               precisely poetry
      the CIA's and now Peking's Cambodian

assassins the Khmer Serai
               In that article I estimated
      a half-million or more

killed in this period
               it took Noam in a book
      suppressed by its first publisher

to quote Admiral Sudomo
               of the Indonesian junta
    more than 500,000

and now Amnesty International
                many more than one million
      so much for my balanced prose

But none of us experienced
               that pervasive smell of death
      those impassable rivers

clogged with corpses
               Robert Lowell is that why
      even you a pacifist

had so little to say about it?
               Or you gentle reader
      let us examine carefully

the good reasons
               you and I
      don't enjoy reading this

Like the time
               in the steep Engadine
      we saw the silent avalanche

fall away from the mountain
               hair and eyebrows
      the first to feel

the murmurations
               of the spreading
      killer wind


Mégève   coming down
         beside a rainbow
   into a shower

glissade 1000 meters
         on wet grass
   laughter at falling safe

think   married a Venezuelan
         and lives near Lausanne
   tell me now you

with homes in the mountains
         who are at hand
   and know all things

where we hear only rumor
         of the captains
   at Bilderberg meetings

one has to sound
         like a John Bircher to talk about
   between the Rockefellers

the Agnellis and the Rothschilds
         at whose Megeve resort
   we were lodged in uncomfrtable

luxury as delegates
         to the International Student Service
   Bilderberg meetings

supplying Prince Bernhard with
         an almost unrivalled network
   not just for the European Movement

financed with German counterpart funds
         but also for the recruitment
   of old intelligence contacts

as conduits for Lockheed payoffs
         through the Temperate Zone
   Research Foundation

for Antelope Cobbler the Italian premier
         which supplimented the CIA's
   financial support

to parties canidates
         and incumbent leaders
   of almost every political persuasion

and under Sukarno
         which is why I am telling all this --
   not just recalling

the swampy fields
         around the Rockefeller lodge
   in the Connecticut valley

where the Liberty Lobby discovered
         the Bilderbergers in '67 --
   Jakarta payments deflected

four months before the coup
         at legal risks to Lockheed
   towards the very wealthy

General Alamsjah
         epitome of
   the military entrepreneur

whom a Lockheed memo
         called the second man
   the coup made at once

funds available to Suharto
         a Lockheed web
   extending from Geneva to Jakarta

millions to Japanese officials
         where every move made
   was approved by Washington

the money through Deak
         back to Shig Katayama
   in the Cayman Islands

the Wildlife Fund the Sultan
         Castle Bank in the Bahamas
   Helliwell narcotics CIA

the name Richard M. Nixon on the list
         It was at a Bilderberg
   meeting that Prince Bernhard

was introduced by Baron
         Edmond de Rothschild
   to Tibor Rosenbaum of the ICB

the International Credit Bank
         (later exposed by the Baron
   after the Vesco coup

as a source of secret funds
         for the Mossad
   Israel's intelligence service

and one of the country's primary
         weapons brokers)
   and whose colleague Ed Levinson

was the power behind
         the Havana Riviera
   and the Serv-U Corporation

of the Bobby Baker payoffs
         which began to be exposed
   in November 1963 --

My book would have asked
         as the Warren Commission staff
   working for Allen Dulles

was unable to
         why Levinson's pit-boss
   McWillie gambler and murderer

from the old Binion gang
         in Dallas and Fort Worth
   who had a fix with Mr. Big

I don't think we'd better
         go into that phase of it
   twice brought to Havana

most likely as a courier
         his close friend
   Jack Ruby

A dumb subject
         The book went into galleys
   and was photographed

for the Pocket Books spring catalogue
         but never published
   freeing me

to write this poem
         Do you remember   yes
   just for an instant

the sun warm on our shoulders
         and beyond the mists
   rising from the meadow

Mont Blanc


From the Bay Bridge   
          on the way home from the opera
   you could look down on the searchlights

of the Oakland Army Terminal
          where they loaded the containers
   of pellet-bombs and napalm

into black Japanese ships
          over which the cranes
   bent like anxious surgeons

in the calm and glassy night
          People of good will
   of whom at first there were many

were willing to sign petitions
          or to help in drafting
   the letter to the Times

about how six months
          they had moved from true to false
   reports of the North Vietnamese

negotiating position
          that the letter never published
   and the music changing

bonfires to still the streets
          the first smudges of tear gas
   the Yellow Submarine

(acid in Bir Sur
          Allen kneeling to pray
   for Johnson's health)

at the rock poetry festival
          no sensations from my first joint
   except for the difference

between the salt and pepper
          I felt being shaken
   on my bare left arm

Owsley by parachute
          at the Human Be-in
   Mika on Carole's shoulders

one mine so they could see
          the Brave New World
   worms in the rose

the party's hostess
          some new drug in the basement
   crying like a child

CIA personnel
          helping local chemists
   set up LCD labs

in the Bay Area
          to monitor events
   STP Serenity

from Dow Chemical
          and the Edgewood Arsenal
   like being shot out of a gun

men with their Sunday morning
          rifle range target practice
   Black Panthers Ku Klux Klan

women who shyly hinted
          at ineffable orgies
   of acid nakedness

Ed Sanders the Fugs
          investigative poetics
   Out demons out

with no respect whatsoever
          for the unassailable logic
   of the next step

two hundred pounds of daisies
          from Peggy Hitchcock
   to skybomb the Pentagon

Fort Funston Beach
          the Barb's first nude-in
   under the fixed gaze of the mounted police

dunes of iceplants and callas
          linnets in the sun and mist
   (To shoot a policeman

is a sacred act)
          the women in seaweed and surf
   wading as if to be washed

as clean as seals


Clifford Geertz having just
          reread your Notes
   on the Balinese cockfight

how you were first accepted
          by cautious villagers
   after you all fled

from the Javanese constabulary
          and how slaughter
   in the cock ring itself

after red pepper
          is stuffed down their beaks
   and up their anuses

joins pride to selfhood
          selfhood to cocks
   and cocks to destruction

a blood sacrifice
          offered to the demons
   to pacify their cannibal hunger

depicting how things are among men
          not literally but almost worse

what it says is
          it is of these emotions
   that society is built

and of the combat
          between terrible witch Rangda
   her eyes bulging like boils

and the endearing monster Barong
          a clash between the malignant
   and the ridiculous

It is not your belief in men
          every last one of them are cultural artifacts
   that I now question

or even that the imposition
          of meaning on life
   is the major end of human existence

that Virgilian flourish
          in your footnote to Max Weber
   but your recurring interpretations

of the Balinese massacre
          after what you choose to call
   the bungled coup and its savage aftermath

My complaint is not
          of your early field project
   for Ford and the CIA-funded

Center at MIT
          in which you preceded Pauker
   or your commissioned study

on which local elites
          would best play a role
   in Rostow's pre-take-off period

I will not cast that stone
          from this front window
   of the world's largest weapons lab

you who know about
          puputan and Tjalonarang
   have the right to recall

the fact of the massacre
          through the medium of the cockfight
   the theatricality of trance

but why did you write
          several hundred thousand
   people were massacred

largely villagers by other villagers
          though there were some
   army executions as well

when even Shaplen admits
          the murders in Bali
   did not start until early December

that is until after
          Colonel Edhie's commandos
   with unit-names like Dracula

had finished in East Java
          the army began it
   then handed the job over to the Balinese

that is to the special teams
          set up under Nasution's
   and Suharto's orders

and finally stopped the bloodletting
          as the smell of burning houses
   overpowered the customary

fragrance of the rich island flora
          Clifford Geertz sometimes
   the world is not as mysterious

as you and I might wish
          why can you not write
   as straightforwardly as Time

about the land to which you returned
          on a junta visa
   and how can you write

about the integrative revolution
          in a book that is indexed
   to sixty-one countries

Paraguay the Soviet Union
but not the United States?


When some toys from the West
          where stolen out of the back seat
   of our Peugeot in Saska Kepa

I went without thinking   
          to the Warsaw police
   A moustached officer

wrote down everything
          I had to say
   which was very little

and then asked me
          Was the door locked?
   I said I had no idea

probably not and he said
          Prosze Pana excuse me
   but it would be good in the future

to keep your doors locked
          Our children are not used
   to seeing toys from the west

and you do not want
          to encourage them in crime
   those Sunday walks with

Cassie in her blue pram
          the well-dressed housewives
   offering in illegal dollars

twice what we paid for it
          I told the officer
   I was withdrawing my complaint

He smiled and began to talk
          about his life as a policeman
   how much easier it had been

after Stalin had died
          in those days no one
   wanted to talk to us

even our own children
          sometimes mistrusting us
   despite what they learned at school

We talked for two hours
          and I think of him often
   as I read in the papers

of Solidarnosc suppressed
          how those must be
   privileged moments

one can so transcend history
          how today he would not dare
   to have such a conversation

nor I have the heart
          And yet those two hours
   in that ill-furnished precinct

seem somehow more true
          than the street battles since
   My own life is easier

no longer having to be consul
          I suspect that on our side
   officials of U.S. Steel


And now East Timor
          where in 1977
   the Indonesian minister admits

perhaps 80,000 might have been killed
          that is to say one person out of eight
   by his own government's paracommandos

these gentle midnight faces
          the beetles which crowd their eyes
   From 1975 to 1977

the New York Times index
          entries for East Timor
   dropped from six columns

to five lines

“Coming to Jakarta: II.iv, IV.i-ii, IV.viii, IV.xvii” by Peter Dale Scott, from Coming to Jakarta, copyright 1988, Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
Source: Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1988)
More Poems by Peter Dale Scott