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Saturday, 31 December 2011

ON LOVE

Love is a regent
with an entourage 
there is terror, fear, sorrow 
courtesying even as they hurt
poisoned darts
to make heart tremble
dismantle mind 
wreck hour into minutes
that can never add up to 60 again;
invites embrace
and melting 
and we grip hard to force the issue
or loosely to make for easier dissolve,
or run away 
on account of poverty
(we can't pay the price),
when all there is to do
is caress,
with fingertip
with gaze
word
and silence.   

[From the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Friday, 30 December 2011

MUTTIAH



What was bigger, do you think,
the Kookaburra or his eyes?
What mesmerized more,
the glint,
unwavering focus
the afterwards-smile?
He was made of grin-and-bear,
this boy who came from a mountain
this man who caught insult
and tossed it back
to bounce and spin
and disarrange wickets.
He was slighted
but was not slighting;
the Smiling Assassin
never killed;
he just wrote some poetry
with finger, wrist, mind, eye and heart.
And we,
the beneficiaries
of the mis-hit that went for SIX,
the miss that took his off-stump
or slid by keeper for four,
the brilliant run-out
and breath-taking catch,
and of course the wickets,
the wickets
that fell and fell and fell
like the records that will take time beating,
yes, we
can salute.
You made us taller, Murali.
Thanks.   

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days]

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Thursday, 29 December 2011

FOR SIMON


Life was a twirl of smoke
and madness
black, white and shade
word-weave was your thing,
wasn't it Simon?
In the sacred groves
you make your tracks these days
does nihilist meet lover,
does Yasa toss the burden of memory
at Suba
and Suba throw back?
Is the Afterlife Mullegama Galkanda
as silent with history
as it was this side of death?
Does it get covered by wilderness
uncovered by civilization
and re-covered by the eternal verities?
Did the dadayakkaraya forgive caricature
and the heart,
does it gasp 
in love's breathlessness,
still?
And is the golf-cap
lighter 
than the lightness of your being
and loving
here on this earth you walked
so many centuries ago?

[From the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

COMMANDANTE


Ah! Che,
Yes, you are now brand
and product
capitalism’s artifact
pin-up boy
for everything 
you objected to
yes, 
your face is 
on t-shirt
and hoarding,
web-banner
and fb wall,
profile pic
and other places
you would never have dreamed about. 
Not your fault, companero,
no, not at all;
it was not about victory
but the march
the journey
and you touched
and touch
and will touch
and change and change and change.
Slowly, yes,
but still, surely, 
yes, surely.

Hasta Siempre Commandante!

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days]

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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

PACIFIER

(for my daughter Dayadi Sucharya)

And she looks deep into my eyes
now and then.
Asks: are you crying? 
Says: wait a little, don’t go.
She runs into her room
brings out her most prized possession,
‘The Good King Sivi’.
Lady Birds her love
and waves her heart as handkerchief
in the manner of magician and lover
wipes tear and instructs:
‘Read this and you will remember me’.
She’s such a grandmother,
this daughter of mine,
and such a child too.

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days]

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Monday, 26 December 2011

THE HELA HATAN OF RITIGALA

(for Ritigala Sumedha)

These hills are ancient,
older than the stories
and poetry
the dance and the dancer
the warrior and the war.
They live
because they are lived in
and their stories re-related
not only with word on paper
but in the grace of movement,
the tempered steel
the focused mind
the heart of equanimity.
These hills are ancient
because they are new
and are renewed 
and their spirits reawakened
with the particularity of gaze
the clasp of hands
the sprinkling of labour
the veneration of a tradition.
There are winds 
               that swirl as mist;
they are made 
               of the life-breath
of the immortals,
the defenders 
of a land and lifestyle,
the thousands 
of the Yaksha Nation;
they are made of strong belief
and tender engagement,
feet that know earth
hands that protect flame 
and eyes bereft of anger;
made of you and I
and a history un-visited
and is yet both of our now
and tomorrow;
made also,
among other things,
of a man called Sumedha,
history-born, 
tradition-resident,
of the soil, the waters
and a mountain
called Ritigala.



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Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Christmas Advertisement

And so they went
from one store to the next
          to the next and next
all bedecked with Christmas colour
melodied with Christmas cheer
the fake mistletoe the red-nosed reindeer
and Santa too,
the glitter and shine
the bells and lights,
all screaming ‘Purchase!’
all carrying the soft small-print tag
‘In the name of Jesus!’
(of was it the other way about?),
all laid out for them folks
armed with crisp currency notes
and easy plastic.
And they came,
they saw
they were glad too,
for they went away
duly garmented,
while the raiment of the Savior
so visible all over
remained unvisited.
The eyes of the faithful
Were fervent in prayer,
Elsewhere.

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Friday, 23 December 2011

The most beautiful eyes

I can see me in your eyes,
can you see you in mine?

She asked.

In your eyes, little girl,
I see roads and skies
patterns that capture thought-train
randomness that turns heartbeat into petal
and road into river.
In your eyes,
my petalled-heartbeat,
I see thorn and laughter,
tear and resolve,
breaking, breaking and breaking
renewal, renewing and reward,
a child, mother and sister,
impossible loves
quietly slipping
into possible togethernesses,
fingers reaching out
to touch your cheek
and your arms opening wide
to receive world
and your fingers trembling
at the touch of a baby’s breath.
In your eyes, my darling,
I don’t want to see me
or places I’ve come from
or things I want to do.
There’s so much to see
so little time
but that’s alright.
Just look around,
that’s enough.

[written for my daughter 'Mitsi' (Mithsandi)]


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Thursday, 22 December 2011

ANCIENTING

Take old woman
and unravel:
whisk away whisker and worry line
Smooth out skin-bend
wrought of smiling.
Take old woman and un-wrinkle
obtain little girl.
Easy.
Sad!

Reverse gear process:

Take child and craft woman
craft further
find old woman.
find death.
Impossible!
Thankfully.

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

AT THE MAUSOLEUM OF LOVE

At the mausoleum of love
on any given night
or day
the loved and the loving
bend low
touch ground
and memory rebirths
the beloved;
while the unloved
they pillage
in the manner of a nidan hora
assassinate again and again
desecrate again
heart and time.
Love eludes some,
and I wonder why they wonder why.

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

COLOUR-TOUCH PHOBIA

There’s a blank sheet of paper
screaming for colour
and I dare not touch it,
not even with fingertip
or gaze
for I know nothing
of tragedies and triumphs
poised for a dive
that cannot be reversed. 

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days'] 

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Monday, 19 December 2011

ON COLOUR, TENDER

Pastel shades
are made of pain
persistence,
tumouring
          heart-shredding with love-blade
they offer immortalizing kiss
and drain life with smile
and so unlike hard-colour,
that peculiar wash of friendship
disavowal and fear of ambiguity
the sliced and secured arrogance
that definitive afternoon cup of tea
drawn from knowing.

[From the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']


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Saturday, 17 December 2011

ON COLOUR, HARD AND SOFT

Hard colour
is made for defining,
for contouring
categorization and theft
grab and run
stick-ups and waylaying;
pastel shades now
they are for corporate crime
they slip knot,
slide from layer to layer
and no one notices.

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days]



Friday, 16 December 2011

OCTOGENARIANISM



A line for every path walked,
wrinkle for every twist of fate,
colour-shade for layers of being
and navigations that intersected
absorbed and was consumed
by navigation,
and the specks
the scars
markers on a cartography
of living and dying;
it is not the trace
or embroidery-reverse
of the ashta loka dharmaya,
but how mind, heart and sinew,
fingertip and fist,
tender gaze and angry eye,
doubt and finality
touched, caressed, banged against
got hurt and cooled
in the play
of joy
and sorrow,
profit-loss,
fame and ill-fame
and praise and blame.
Look.
It’s history
and a retelling
of an ancient tale
told and retold.
Read it; it’s your story.

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Thursday, 15 December 2011

ODE TO INCARCERATION

And of prisons it was thus decreed
some would be bar-made and some unbarred
some to separate the free from the incarcerated
and some with lines erased,
yes so erased
that ‘free’ comes with query mark
and imprisonment is the worst kept secret
in the metropolis. 
And of the former kind,
there are those who are bowled,
and those less picture-perfect.
The goldfish looks with compassion
and knows the futility of keeping notes
but we,
we eye one another with pity
and even empathy
keep notes;
we might as well collect mirrors
while we wait the clock-guard
to interrupt the monotony of delusion
if nothing else.

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

THREE MONTHS LATER

Like always,
she is present
and absent,
in and out of me,
i speak her words,
wonder if my face mimics 
manner and humour,
love and confusion,
and i remember
the intensity of giving
equalled by an intensity of refusal;
she was proud
and such a child
in her gifting 
and embrace,
mother and teacher,
but such a student too.

And I, 
I cannot remember
the kiri-suwanda,
that baby time
or her giving
for time-squeeze
and event-mix
arrived 
with the curse of awkwardness 
she left
so did I
each to a specific banishment
each in a specific abhinishkramanaya,
and our returns never coincided
our orbits chose to slip 
and miss.
I was not her eka-pun-sanda,
not all the time;
but i was, i am sure,
now and then,
and that's all that matters
in the matter of thanksgiving.


[written in memory of my mother, January 2010]
 


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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

ODE TO WEATHERING

ODE TO WEATHERING

There is dust
a stupor rising
from being and becoming:
it is the brain-residue
of the after-rain
of overflowing days
dripping into a plastic container
through tiles that once leaked sunlight.
We clean up
the vomit of global warming
await the next retching
and worry about our children.

Monday, 12 December 2011

THE DIMENSIONS OF INFINITY

To the fish in the net
a single drop of water,
to the incarcerated
a sliver of sky,
to the guitarist
whose hands were cut off
a pick,
and
lip-red
to the heart that said ‘no’
to a love that will not return.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

UNCLOTHING

Thread by thread,
a slow dismantling,
removal of colour
wrecking of pattern
unscrambling motif
a miscarriage of line and space:
so many names for fragmenting.
Our disguises are many
and our unclothing unpredicted
but the mirror,
she knows
so it matters not
which hands rip apart
our garments
or why:
it is a has to be done thing
so says the Book of Love.


[From the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']


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Saturday, 10 December 2011

ODE TO FORGOTTEN MELODIES

They have a way
of come-and-go,
without invitation
with no warning,
those tunes
made of place and encounter
and a long time ago;
but they go
and as they go
they trip and smirk
and rush to destinations
we are not supposed to know,
but I’ve heard that they hide
in this hide-and-seek
climb and slide world of
Ludo
and Snakes and Ladders
lurk in other people’s minds
or tiptoe around
the cacophony of the latest hits. 
So fickle,
these ditties of a long ago;
so unworthy to be theme-song
of a love gone waste
or a history squandered
and yet so adept
at trumping mortality. 

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Friday, 9 December 2011

Mumia Abu Jamal*

Yo Mumia,
give us news:
type it all out
on your dread-lock type-writer heart
pin it on the memory of a radio show
fold it in a jailor’s guilt
sail it on the waves of complicity
tell me how long 30 years is like
my brother Political Prisoner,
unravel the meaning
of justice, decency and civilization
those easy alibis for invasion and massacre
the age old guns-in-booty-out of empire;
whistle your story if your fingers are tired of twiddling
in unison with the waiting-for-you
of friend and detractor;
write to us again
the love story of your democracy
your citizenship
and your freedom
that is envied so much
by so many.

*Mumia Abu Jamal, wrongfully convicted of murder, completed 30 years in prison on December 9, 2011.  His sentence was commuted to ‘life’ from execution by lethal injection on December 8, 2011.


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Thursday, 8 December 2011

STOLEN MOMENTS

Piece of land that jumped over
the Waste Lands Act
arrested by a mendicant from Europe
to piddle on his hasty little-mindedness;
piece of cloth
embroidered with valour-thread
and discontent
splashed with the orphan blood
of the vanquished,
handkerchief gathering melancholia
frayed edges of history
and history’s footnotes
time’s irrelevanced archive:
yes, it was in this soil
was it not,
was it not here
that the lost melodies
of stolen moments
were finally pieced together
and laid to rest
wrapped in that dust-made banner,
never to rest in peace,
ever?

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

KISSES

In an impossible city
on a street lined with rare emotions
on forgotten clotheslines and heart-sleeves
hang incandescent smiles,
I am told;
not for all eyes, no
but those that are lipped
and are themselves lost
in oblivion. 

[From the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

PAVEMENT STONES

Some newly laid
so newly laid you want to step around them,
and some wearied of feet
chewing gum, spit
and conversation remnant;
pavement stones know stories
know kicked-in-the-gut
insult;
are made of morning, noon and night
witness to all prosecution
innocent to the end
of a rope and sword-swing.
Yes, pavement stones
are drops of poetry
waiting to be flung at the oppressor,
didn’t you know?

[From the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Monday, 5 December 2011

A NEW NOTE TO ABIDIN


(AFTER NAZIM HIKMET)

Come Abidin,
let us to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean
the tear of all tears
blood soaked and benign.
There, I have heard
lives a painter*
who turns apple into orange
draws it out of table, table-cloth and frame
to feed revolution;
who disguises scream as laughter
anguish as resolve
and tickles himself to death
so he can live forever.

*reference to Gamini Haththotuwegama.

[from the collection 'Stray kites on string-less days']

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Some texts are made of leaves*

They are flipped with the fingers of the eye
unwet and wet
read with care by those conversant
with the language
of colour, texture and passing
and passed over too
for there are preferred texts
and ones tossed aside
for later and never;
but leaves
come from dust and to dust they go
without complaint
through gaze and ignoring;
they conspire with sun, shade and wind
wear the garments of the day’s seasonality
without shout, let us repeat
but whisper
the eternal verities: ‘birth, decay, death’
all laid out in leaf-texts
that need no words,
not even these.

*Inspired by the photography of Hiranya Malwatta and published in the 'Eye' section of 'The Nation', December 4, 2011.

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