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Poems to Portray Struggles Against Covid19 in Indonesia


Indonesia is one of the countries struggling against covid19 with limited resources and poor health literacy. People have been switching back and forth from panic buying, hoarding medical supplies, and eventually believing hoaxes that everything is conspiracy. Meanwhile, doctors on the frontline has been struggling with limited protective gears and accusation of making up lies to receive large amount of incentives. Covid19 has also influenced social religious aspect as we normally celebrated Eid al-Fitr by gathering with families. These five poems were written in different dates to portray different aspect of lives in Indonesia during different stages of the pandemic. We sincerely hope that opening up to the world would allow us to acknowledge our mistake and progress toward better future.

Poem 1: Written in April 13th, 2020. Indonesia had 4557 total cases and 399 deaths. The mass panic had resulted in panic buying and limited protective gear. Medical professionals need to create instant protective gear using random materials like plastic bags and colourful raincoats. Meanwhile, the stigma caused by misinformation made people reject the burial of coronavirus victims in their regions despite the safety protocol. One of the deceased whose burial end up being relocated due to the rejection by her neighbours was a nurse.

Soldiers in Polka Dot Raincoat

Stomp, stomp, stomp, we march forward,

On the enemy ground, with syringe and toy gun

We can’t see in the fog, as the enemy is hidden,

Yet we hurt their eyes, as pink raincoat is glaring

The enemy assassins are experts in hiding

Sun-shaped bullets reach a mile, silently gliding

Our vision’s too blurry, but we hope we can parry

We depend on the might of polka dot raincoat

Our feet will not hurt, as we wear plastic bags for shoes

Even when we’re in fear, the war calls the dutiful

Thine Excellency shalt embrace the bodies of the respectful

Even when suspicion comes from both ends of the warzone,

No one is allowed to laugh at the tale retold by angels

We don’t care who’s at fault nor who’s to blame

It’s okay to be afraid; it’s alright to cower,

But for the calming breeze blowing in the future,

We have to combat the malicious peptide vulture

Poem 2 and 3: Written in April 23rd, 2020. Indonesia had 6168 total cases and 647 deaths. People were separated into those who resumed vacation as offices were enforced to provide days off, and people who were panicking due to various information. As lockdown rule had never been formally enforced (only strongly suggested), people were able to go to various places despite the policemen guarding the roads. As the holy month of Islam was coming and holy festival eid al fitri was approaching, people were suggested to not do family gathering, despite the long lasting tradition.

Two Magnet Poles

Two separate magnet poles

Were labeled plus and minus, or south and north

As they reside in their domain, they will not meet

What do you wish to hear, when we read you a book

Do you want the story of the end of the world?

Or you wish for fairy tales where the princess lives forever?

It’s not a countdown on a nuke, but it’s definitely not a fluke

We do not wish for chaos resulting from mass panic

But we’ll scold each of you planning to resume picnic

Maintain your healthy mind and loosen your bind

But remain cautious, even if it means slightly anxious

Temple in Your Heart

The sacred month is coming, the month so awaited,

But blocking its way, the thousand suns bring the curse

While we cleanse the palace for the holy ceremony,

The decree has been made, and the mass shall disperse

It’s not that we abandon God or belittle His might

It’s not that we forsake tradition by denying family reunion

But just for these moments, let the temple be in your heart

For not so long, gather through the webs knitted from electron

To preserve human lives and the elderly wisdom

Your prayer will reach, even from secluded room

The serene temple needs no form to assume

Outreach to god and sing your praise

Meditate and relax, be mindful and stay faithful

God will have his way, but He needs to see us try

Poem 4 and 5: written in July 10th, 2020. Indonesia had 72347 cases and 3469 deaths. Indonesia has grown tired of the semi-enforced lockdown. People are coming back out despite keeping their distance, but more than a third of people walk around without masks. The premature announcement of new normal and the lack of the previously-imagined apocalypse make people believe that everything is just a lie. Despite the rising deaths of medical professionals and the lack of fund from the government, people are making accusation that doctors are making up positive cases to receive 100 million rupiahs from government incentive. Burial of covid19 patients are often interrupted by mobs opening up protective casket and even removing protective gears from medical professionals.

Hocus Pocus, Hoax

Hocus pocus, hoacus pocus

With the swing of magic wand, rises the castle of sand

Hoacus pocus, hocus pocus

With the growth of giant tree, we get a palace in the cloud for free

We prefer magical story to coherent reality

Even when professors and accomplished doctors die

Even when you feast on the meat of your own kin

We break reputation for colossal fiction

It’s easier to believe that the whole thing is deceit

Pushing to the edge the ones who try to protect

Accusing them as liar, with the evil schemes so perfect

You think they get money from the deal so sweet

Still, you choose to feed the dragon steed of the golden knight

You sacrifice living humans for the lies of mythical snakes

It wasn’t easy

It wasn’t easy to see those who fall

The ones who fight for others and stand up tall

The ones who move to the front when we switch to the back

It wasn’t easy to escape and watch the bones crack

But we need to make peace about who we can protect with our arms

We’ll let go of some allies we knew back in school

And let their stories pass to the future generation

So peel your eyes open and memorize every motion

Poem 6: Written in September 8th 2020. Indonesia has 200,035 positive cases and 8,130 deaths. Indonesia had just celebrated independence day around a month ago, but it only signified that both our mythical symbol, Garuda, and our national flag became silent witnesses of the deaths and the ignorance. Around 107 doctors have died as confirmed covid-19 patients or highly probable cases.

Eggs of Garuda

Six month passes as the unforgiving clock ticks away

Yet a third of the mass think they don’t need mask

Cruel as it can be, the one who serves a thousand

Collects curses of many, who inhale them like air

The Garuda witnesses as the nation weeps

Indonesian flag waves, the red and white colors are visible

But the blood of Garuda is blended at the top red of the flag

It drips to the white that’s supposed to remain humble

The Garuda is frail, it’s hunched in pain

Yet the words of leaders lose to judgment of the web

Social media is seen as prophecy of the great saint

People believe that the disease is just the kings’ feint

Yet the Garuda will not lose its prideful stare

It thinks that the time is near for a fatal injury

But we will pass the message to the child of the future

The mighty bird will not lose its bravery

However much in pain, it will protect its lair

For the eggs that haven’t hatched, we will write down the tale

A hundred years later, the next Garuda will prevail

dr Afkar Aulia, MSc

General Physician and Psychiatry Resident
Universitas Gadjah Mada