Tuesday, March 24, 2020


It used to be

before I die I want
to have a perfect love.
But now I only want to
write the perfect love poem.
Loving is hard and messy
sticky with guilt and
smells of unanswerable questions.

A love poem only has
messy syntax and
questionable metaphors.
I want my perfect love poem
to make epic novels on war
stand at attention when she walks by
and for news stories on death
and destruction to envy her
confidence and her
defiance. For everyone to
"Oh look at her face, her garments!
How they shine! How they rhyme!"

I used to want a perfect love.
Now I only want the
perfect love poem

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


 Trincomalee, Sri Lanka 2018

The woman who
lost her son in the war
shows me his  framed photograph.
His eyes are sharp above the slight mustache.
But in his smile
there is no hint of wrists firing
a gun
the shadow of hands hurling
a grenade
nor the possibility of killing.
Under his shirt, no hint of a striped uniform.

Like the parrot she now keeps caged
and in whose wings she has clipped
there is no hint
of the possibility of flight.

But as he hops around in his iron cage
you can see the memory of
freedom in his eyes
Verdant fields
leafy branches and green fields
and the dream of  a land to
call his own.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Poem's Plea

Image may contain: text 
In that invisible place between time and space, allow me to rest.
In that infinitesimal difference between the flower and its fragrance, let me linger.
In the delicate point between poetry and prose, may I pause
Between air and water in that vapour-like vicinity, allow me to live.
In that ephemeral hour between night time and daytime, may I tarry.
In that grey area between home-land and other-land, let me stay.
In that minute space between Us and Them; there, allow me to be.
At that moment of day-break which lies between a poet and his poem, let me linger.
This is not mine, but my poem’s plea.

My Translation of Liyanage Amarakeerthi's "Kaviyakata Ida" From his book of poems "Ekamath Eka Pitarataka"

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Lie

She needed to oil her tricycle. Even at four plus, one needs to maintain one's machines. Her mother's sewing machine oil was available, reachable and  forbidden, her parents out. Oil spilled into  small pools of dangerous thrills and dripped from her little hands like guilt. When interrogated, scared, she denied the act. Evidence was a border she had not yet crossed.
Her father's wrath came down hard: a cane, a hand, a flash of pain, a wall of tears. It wasn't that oil had been used but a lie had been told. She learned her lesson. And broke the rule again only with lovers. Do you trust me? "Yes". The promise to her father was kept until years later  he lay  on a hospital bed, bleeding; life's wheels, well oiled and turning.
"Am I dying?"
"No, my darling, you are not".

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I Will Meet You There

"Beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there's a field. I will meet you there" - Rumi

You were a warm breeze
after a freak snowfall in Spring;
you were shade from a scorching sun;
not the sharp angles of high noon
but a gentle shadow of evening
walking over the grass towards the sunset.

A tranquil sea I could wade into
and lie on my back in the water,
unafraid of drowning.

You were the one who never tried
to own me,
the desert's flame red surprise
of Ocotillo,
the rescue boat no one could see
on the horizon.

You, who wrote poems for me
spilling your soul
into my cupped hands
warmer than water
and blue like the ocean
I love.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Letter to a Disappeared One.

I have a house here.
It is made of tin
but  shelters me
from the sun.
But I only need to know if
you are dead or alive and may return.
The children ask me
when.  To the eldest I say

I do not know.
To the younger son
I do not reply.
His arms are too small
to carry broken things.
Sometimes your sons

forget and laugh.
The eldest has your smile.
The barbed wire is
shiny and new here
the sky is as blue as
the day before you went missing
and my world has shrunk
to the one thought
of finding you.

The daughter you've never
seen is gentle like you
but also has your sharp temper.
She has learnt to sing lullabies
to the neighbor's baby.

Your mother has stopped talking!
Can you remember
how I used to complain
that she never stopped her chatter?
Her silence
is heavy like the stones I carry
at the construction site
where since the war is over,
a tourist hotel
is coming up.

Now I pray
to a god I never believed in
to just send me a sign
that you are somewhere alive:
a gust of wind that
topples the pot I am drying
on the fence post;
two crows flying over our roof;
anything, really

Friday, December 1, 2017


On the day the truckload      
of explosives
drove into the central bank,
for a long second
time staggered
All sounds of a workday morning
in the city
even the cawing of the crows
merged into a solitary
Prism of fire and fury

Lives ended
eyes were blinded
retired wage earners
collecting provident funds
were crushed
under brick and glass
the nearby vegetable seller’s
hands were severed
like cucumbers,
Women in sari
held their eyeballs in their palms
and blood spattered
the streets,
erasing memory.

Out of the broken window
of a damaged car -
dead driver -
the radio blared, unscathed
on a commercial break
a man’s pleasant voice
that big or small, insurance
protects them all

 (From 'nothing prepares you' - 2007) Posting this on the request of many teachers and students who need poems from the new syllabus of the GCE Advanced Level English examination

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Today you are all day
On my mind.
I hear your sighs
In the wind
I see your lips
In the leaves of
The Na tree.
The silver finger nail moon
In the sky
Is your smile.

Both now are beyond my touch.

I miss you.
Not the cursing, swearing
you, now filled with the rage of a hurricane
not the you with the stone heart
But the you who dried my tears
And said you will never forget me
The you whose hands
sculpted for me a penguin
out of yellow soap.
This is not a poem.
It is not a plea.

It is just a note
my tears wrote.

Friday, August 25, 2017


when love releases you
from its warm embrace
your first impulse is to hug yourself
to keep away the chill
Odd, that need for self preservation
even in the moment
you’re  tottering at the edge

of the world.
The body goes on
even when the soul has
been torn out
the limbs move, the eyes blink, the nails grow
stubborn in their slow routine
and the heart keeps running
its steady and futile race
like the tail
that wriggles
long after the gecko has gone

Stitch your Eyelids Shut 2010  (Akna: Colombo)

Crossings: a memory map

(For my sister, 2007)

In a few weeks
you will
cross several oceans
and two continents
in search of new beginnings
and fulfillment of old needs

my mind hovers around
the days we sailed paper boats
on rivers made by
monsoon rain on a coconut estate
streams afloat
with pol mal and tamarind shells
and halts near the talk
of leaving
the concept of home
and crossing oceans.

With you I have confronted
the intricate twists of
growing up
negotiated the algorithms
of loving and losing
divided grief
into manageable chunks
With you I have constructed a history.

So geography shall remain
only a syllable
as you leave,
a small twig in the river
that flows inexorably
to the sea