Monday, 30 December 2013

Nodes of liberation

The commerce of cloud and color
treeless branch and trunk
silhouette and detail
birds and nests
tree and vine
flower and rock
boat and sand
back and forth
of flight and wave,
the play of backdrop
in depth-giving
and the percussion of composition;
lives are painted thus
sorrows recorded
freedoms blueprinted
and pattern and incarceration

Wednesday, 25 December 2013


Perennial alibi
convenient lie
creature of ignorance
humorist of the fanciful
lover of the evasive,
I will not swear by thee.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


With chisel or pen
on rock or paper
there’s canvas and there’s crafting
there’s subject  and that’s choice
the mind’s delicacy
laid out in line
and deliberate blemish
an attachment that does not varnish
where sandpaper and eraser
are robber’s tools
and left untouched;
a meditation certainly
of their passing
and our illusions. 

[Inspired by a line drawing by Gamini Abeykoon]

Monday, 16 December 2013

Galle 'Heritage'

on rock and shore
heart and history
come through dark cloud and shadow
swirl around lighthouse
and ships that were not wrecked
into cawing and laughter;
the sentinels that remain
guarding enviously
the times that have not changed
but come with different name;
Break Galle break
slowly if you must
but break
for we are weary of lie
and shackles that  cut and cut
through centuries and confusion
cut still
like the sea

Saturday, 7 December 2013


And to that other receptacle 
of karmic mendicancy
life tosses alms
wholesome and detracting 
and we receive
or place the downturned hand
in courteous refusal
for some of us are children
and some ancient too
the karmic callousses in sole
and other marks of mind
will testify
of give and take 
and balance sheet
the how-far-we've-come
the how-much-more-to-go
we cannot read 
but must try:
kumatada kusalata kammeli vanne?*

* Is there reason then for procrastination

[Inspired by the photography of Chandana Wijesinghe]

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A children’s story

He came from nowhere
and she did too,
same name town
in different district
both as children
innocent in confusion
arrogant in conviction
and I took him by his hand
and I took her by her hand
placed one hand on the other
and watched them walk away;
they were two children
when they came to me
they  were one in togetherness
when they left.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Prabuddha XVIII

When the white basin

with water was filled

within it residenced

the pure moonlight lay.

Perceived I the truth

for but a moment

and the mind stilled in silence

for but a moment.

Is it not possible

to retain

to sustain

that stillness

for eternity?

Slipped hands into basin

drew some water

drank my fill

my heart’s fill.


was another day.

And stepping out

one early morning

readying to squirt

the night’s accumulated liquids

the eyes fell upon the kiri habarala

noticed a tender leaf


in unblemished adolescence

and upon it a large drop of dew

like the immaculate love

of a mother

who had suffered

from long before time

to long after time.

‘Dear Lord!

Who but you

could craft

an exquisiteness

such as this?’

The heart was re-lit

overflowed with faith.

And at the moment of discharge,


‘Dear Lord!

This is my offering

in your holy name

to the kiri habarala.

He was alone

there before the Ruwanweli

before the great chaithya

dusk was the hour

and in the sky

a single star,


It shone and shone

this star.

‘If only I could

turn it into adornment!’

he thought.

He walked

to and fro

several times

until that singular point he found

where pinnacle, star and eye

were one.

Atop the Ranweliseya

that star

at that moment


and in all directions released

the incomparable light

the transcendental colors

as emanated

and emanates from the Buddha.

His mind was at peace

the resplendent stillness   

of comprehension:

Deepena thama Dhansinaa!

The gloom was thereby dispelled.

O Great King Dutugemunu!

Did you such splendor

ever witness?

[This is the eighteenth part of the translation of Mahagama Sekera's epic poem 'Prabuddha', an exercise that has the permission and blessings of the immediate family of Mahagama Sekera. Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI , VII, VIII,  IX, X , XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI and XVII can be found in]