Saturday, 11 February 2012

Dry Zone Diary Entry

Dryness is water-made
that’s the hydraulic gist
of our story,
painted in dark clouds breaking sky
and yet unbroken
even as it commerces with hard saved water
that is the ‘all’ of life
waiting to fly
in the abiding wait and see
of our centuries
of the made-for-meditation
motion and stillness
the bird in mid-flight
the day’s end tarrying
where water meets tree
and tree touched by sky.

*Inspired by the photography of Hiranya Malwatta


Friday, 10 February 2012


On days like that wet July in ’92
when defeat rained helplessness
after a vote count
of a mere student election;
on days when truth like sunshine
embarks from the clearest eyes of friends
whose honestly
it is said
pours from bloodied wounds,
in hesitant approaches,
they come,
          so easily
          so articulate
          so logically thrust
like daggers,
and people wonder why
I choose
To shut heart-window
Now and then.

October 1995

[from the collection 'Epistles: 1984-1996]


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Ode to Coconut

Coconut is everything
as in the classic definition of kalpa-vrksha
takes little and gives all.
coconut is crop, plantation
sambol and mallum-mix
made for sweets and thickness
it is dust-sweeper and chalice
fuel and rope,
decorator and denote of the auspicious
intoxicant and unguent
house-maker and wicket for village cricket
a child’s play horse at times
patterner of landscapes
economy holder
but this wet Tuesday morning
it was a lined triangle
in the reverse V
of a Kawda’s tail
as beautiful and rich
no less eloquent or giving.


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Reflections on a lost election

This good morning in late July
raining hard
and the moving hills
treading gently on my heart,
reflecting on a lost election,
brings to mind the other victories
too shy to enter the warmth of our world:
waiting to be born,
still-born now, sometimes aborted,
always malnourished,
always, always poor.
I think of how the earth yawned
as we passed by cursing bitterly
the rain, the puddles, the mud.
But last night I stopped
and let the earth turn
in its immemorial rotation
for we have had to measure victory
not by how far we have come
but the reluctant tears that swell in vacant eyes,
the amount of ground retain,
the few square inches for laughter
the few cubic inches in our hearts
for love.

July 1992

[from the collection 'Epistles: 1984-1996]


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

View from Hantane

Looking down from Hantane
night and Kandy
full of candles in silence
and the time carved mood rode
on across our skies
no pity for the collective dead
and scattered flesh on the roadside.
But our hands have been too full
of blood and entrails
to permit mourning.
No time for sadness,
we have no time for love.
Only anger,
Riding along our veins,
Aching blood
of having been born
in the sixties and early seventies.
We have had to watch the slow ceremony
of charred bodies flowing down history,
marking time.
But there were eyes that once gazed on Hantane,
eyes that saw beauty and brutality;
shining eyes that had captured
the sparks of revolt,
hearts that crept into her shades
and were swept by her breeze
youth that did know love
and injustice
and mothers and others who loved
these children.

Hantane, September 1989

[From the collection ‘Epistles: 1984-1996’]

Sunday, 5 February 2012


years from now
you will put your head out
          of a moving bus
and call out my name.
And I will look across the street
and weep all the tears
I’ve saved for your sorrow.

[From the collection 'Epistles: 1984-1996]