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
would
do.




Friday, December 1, 2017

Explosion



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
Boom
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
announced
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

Untitled

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

Gecko



 
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


Cadaver



They say that holding on to the past
is like tying a corpse
to your back and taking it along
with you
wherever you go,
the stench horrible,
people around you hold their noses
and avoid you like

the proverbial plague.
(A radio DJ spouts such
words of wisdom
between Beyonce’s song
about replacing her lover
and a commercial for detergents)

Driving in rush hour traffic
with a knot of grief
in my throat
I believe he’s speaking
just to me.
So I’m thinking
I should let memory die
let loving you go
imagine the maggots surface
white and thick and sticky
from the depths of  your eyes
I drowned in once
and try to hold in my hands
the crumbling flesh
of your once-loved body
as it falls
bit
by
bit
from
the skeleton of
your devotion
I should untie you
from the back of my heart
dig a hole in the dark deep
night of my past
and bury you,
kisses and all.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Traditional




I was seven when
I first saw my uncle
kick his pregnant wife, hard.
In the stomach.
It was Avurudu and
festive  times were upon us

Dropping him at his house
because he couldn't drive  on his own
Waiting in the car
until he made it through the door which
opened
and his wife came
outside
expressing disappointment
at his inebriation

My father swore
slipped out of the driver's seat
and pulled him off
my screaming aunt
and punched him in the face. He went flat
out.
Bleeding from the nose.

He had been named
for  a notorious Italian dictator
and much was always blamed on that.

Inside the house,
the milk heated at the auspicious hour
had boiled over signifying abundance
and was still warm
in the pot.