Saturday, 18 February 2012

Death ways

There are many ways
to say 'go'
and many ways to say 'no'
but each time
this no-go thing
is a new knifing
soft and delicate;
it's like freezing to death:
you don't feel it,
but still die.


Friday, 17 February 2012


She stands like the ripe grain
bathed in harvest sunlight
a golden smile dancing with the wind;
approaches at dusk
moving like the shadow of the hills
to take me into the night.
And my love is like water
now gushing down river
now halted at the gates
now spilling over
swirling around her feet
and disappearing underground
with monsoon-flight.
My love is a breeze
heaving sighs across valley
touching cheek
in the ‘cannot stay’ way;
and my love
is also the arc of the sickle
a dull pounding
separating grain from husk,
it is like the earth
keeping watch
drawing all things into its bosom.

[From the collection 'Epistles: 1984-1996']


Thursday, 16 February 2012


When you can’t take to sea
you take to the street
when you can’t take the sea
you take the street
and for all explanations
of agent provocateur
cat’s paws and tweaking of proportion
for all narratives of the law and lawlessness,
destabilization beyond provocation
all that matters is someone wrote a number
someone didn’t see the numbers
someone didn’t care
someone wondered but discounted
left one less head-count for enumerator
and emptied the universe of a little girl. 


Wednesday, 15 February 2012


There were pick-me-up times
in profusion
and so too ‘put-me-down’,
but in all the years of carrying
you did not know
(or did you, I wonder?)
who carried whom,
but I know,
girl of butterfly-winged thoughts
that I was more of let-you-down
than by-your-side,
For there were times
when my eyes were so full
of other tears
to see yours,
not even when they cascaded
fell from petal to petal
of your many booked universe.
I am ignorant, but this I know:
Amma varun pamanai mathu budu vanne.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Kataragama Devale*

Faith and hope
the inevitable issue of our ignorance
and fallibility
scorned by know-all and ‘scientician’
in their knowing-all arrogance
and brave-fronted boasts
of infallibility,
are flower made
delicate things of the devout,
now in blue and now in red
one basket of flowers for the Kandasuridun
another for Vishnu
separate for ‘separability’ of petition
together for the convenience of petitioner
a construction
perhaps made by the better informed
the more humble
and in the final instant
the wise,
who can tell?

*Inspired by the photography of Hiranya Malwatta 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Ehetuveva (Galgamuwa)

Here, still
territory is marked as always
serpent and elephant
human endeavour, frailty and faith
gentle engagement and thrift
this harsh and benevolent earth-piece
in the Vanni Hatpattuva
where rice came first and is held to the last
along with temple and word
etched in bodighara
contained in vee bissa
and the slow ending of endlessness.

[Inspired by the photography of W.A.M. Wijesinghe and published in The Nation, February 12, 2012]