Sunday, 28 December 2014


Birth to death and beyond
traceable in form-movement
the gathering of lines
shedding of leaves
the undressing of frill
nudities un-anticipated
which nevertheless arrive,
encroch and evict,
and yet in this divestment
there’s accumulation
knowing and appreciation
and karmic collection
in a differently paced withering.

[Inspired by the line-drawings of Gamini Abeykoon]

Friday, 26 December 2014


They leave marks,
have you noticed?
Thin lines on sand
separating wet from dry.

They break
have you noticed?
rolling from horizon to shore
to rise and roar
to fall and fell.

They come and go
have you noticed?
They give and take
mimicking life
laughing all the way
to world's end
and back.

This was no wave
like other waves
no give but for eternal verities
but lots of take
take away
burden and memory
but for those who lost
left behind
with scattered shards
of lives un-lived
that cut
even now
ten years later.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

වැස්සට නොතෙමුනු කමටහනක්

මහා වැස්සෙන් බේරෙන්නට 
ඉහලූ කුඩය යට
සිල් සුවඳින් තෙත බරිත වූ 
සුදු වත 
හැඳි රුව 
පින් කල නිසාද පව් කල නිසාද,
දික් වුයේද සසර 
කෙටි වුයේද,
දැහැන් ගත වූවාද
සිල් බිඳුනේද?
නතර විය 
ඇය ළඟ  


Uncontained and uncontainable
knower of darkest secrets
residenced everywhere
and also
there is no single
‘this and no other’
for the faithful
no extra-special day
in the all-year clasp
of true worship.

[Inspired by the photography of Tharindu Amunugama]

Monday, 22 December 2014

Adam and Eve

They were not born
not on Day One
they were born though,
and they live now
and they’ll be born again
will be clothed and unclothed
will unite and part
will know tears and smiles
and the soft of love-eye gaze
they will lean on tree
and on one another,
they will recline too
where they will.

[Inspired by the line drawings of Gamini Abeykoon]

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


are made for fracture
they are made by earth-shatter
and wind-water work
slow through century
aross generation
they are cut through and burnt
remodeled and paved
like human miseries
but for frill and fashion.

[Inspired by the line drawings of Gamini Abeykoon]

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Noble Crossover

From this side to that
of street and delight
answer to a necessity-call
on lines demarcated
give or take a foot or two
as directed by sign
adhered to
in the manner of civility
the go and come
of human commerce
the musts
of moment’s compulsion
in these times
of comings and goings
across vague lines
from cesspit to cesspit
but claimed as
hell-to-heaven move.

[Inspired by the photography of Ravindra Dharmatilleka]

Monday, 8 December 2014


Cow, camel, elephant
horse, donkey and other creatures
lift and pull,
carry and transport
feed gluttony too;
‘karmic lot’
we can dismiss thus,
the ultimate beasts of burden
endowed with wisdom
but so poor in sight.

[Inspired by the line drawings of Gamini Abeykoon]

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Aerial Photography

Those common infirmities
read in infinite ways
of ripples, form and color-splash
bend with sensitivities
birthed in forgotten ages
of root, wingtip and claw –
they arrive
in cosmic predictability
that eludes
and yet prompts standstill
and soft acknowledgment
of infirmities;
and lost and found
in this profound blend
we yield
to silence and embrace

and arms unnamed. 

[Inspired by the photography of Chandana Wijesinghe]

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The protection doctrine

As mother embraces child
protects as best she can
shields from worldly horrors
so too the world shields
in known and unknown ways
foliage and shelter
sunshine and rain
those who submit
yield to the eternal verities
in conscious equanimity.

[Inspired by the line drawings of Gamini Abeykoon]

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A Dhammapada Etch

Virtue, it is said,
yields benefit
and evil in turn
just as the wheel follows oxen;
and thus we blaze a path
through the wilderness
of our infirmities
and trudge and toil
to destinations
of bliss undefined
but eternal
as is said.

[inspired by the line drawings of Gamini Abeykoon]

Monday, 24 November 2014


From nothing
to something
to something else
to delight
to teach
to harvest
to decay
to perish
to forget.

[Inspired by the photography of Chandana Wijesinghe]

Sunday, 23 November 2014


The world in pulse
in inhale and exhale gives
movement and stillness
warm and cool
dust and sorrow
joy and departure
mendicant and mendicancy
a festival for perpetuation
but eyes can gaze like caress
stillness is learned
and learning
when stilled
yields truth
and finitude eternal
they say.

[Inspired by the line drawings of Gamini Abeykoon]

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Prabuddha XXII*

A red T-shirt
un-tucked into new white pants
polished shoes
and combed hair
thus did he step out
‘on a day next week’
one evening
to meet her
filled with thought numerous
feelings are vivid
and as he reached the bus stand
a woman with a child
extended a hand
in impoverished request.

‘Who are you sister?
Whose child is this?
Leave you, did your husband?
Sought other men did you
as did Yashoda?’

Right or not right
is this journey of mine?

So he waited
and waited long
at the bus stand
oblivious to the passing hours
and arrival of night
in the indecision,
‘should I or should I not?’

And then a hand
a friendly hand on shoulder
and thus from reverie
he awoke.

It was her husband,
drunk was he.

what are you doing here?
I am drunk, you see?
I am drunk
we drink, so what?
We don’t harm anyone now
do we?
The woman will scream
but scream though she will
she’s my woman
A good woman too!
She spoke of you
even yesterday
spoke well of you.
Come with me tonight,
you must.

A small drink
at my place.
Oh I know:
you are a good man
quite unlike any other.
Come, let’s go,
let’s go with a bottle
come, friend
let’s go home!’

Greatly perturbed was Prabuddha.

You are divine,
an intoxicated god
come to deliver me from evil! 

So he took his arm,
helped him onto a bus
with much affection,
sat him down
and told the conductor
‘Drop him off at the 6th mile post.’

I came back Niranjala
I battled as the Ascetic Siddhartha
battled Mara
for a week I fought Niranjala
for a week a daughter
of Mara
danced in my head

Yes I suffered for a week this                  is true
Yes I sinned for a week this also             is true

But in the end I triumphed
I won
I won.

A sharp sword is the mind
but it cannot cut itself;
an eye that sees is the mind
but one that will not look upon itself.

A man reached out
asked for Prabuddha’s cigarette
he lit his own.

A ‘Thank you,’
did Prabuddha expect
but there was none
not even a faint smile,
stuck the fag
at the corner
of his mouth
left like a Lord.

Prabuddha was displeased.

Is it necessary to thank?
Must he offer a glance of gratitude?
“Do your duty
do not reflect
on consequence.’[i]
He remembered
and silently thanked
‘Thank you sir!’

And he that took
was not him
but a deity
larger than himself,
Prabuddha felt.

When picking up the small change
in post-tea, post-payment moment
noticed he an extra rupee.
A new, shiny rupee!
‘Should I take it
should I give it back?’
Once again indecision.  

‘Take it man!
A toy for your son
you could with it buy.’

So he clutched tight the coins
the new shiny rupee included
and left
in a brisk walk.

He was not at peace though
for the theft
a god within had witnessed
and admonished with disappointment:

‘A lowly thief
who even a rupee would rob
that’s what you are
and what I did not think
you could become.’

When he could not flee
From admonishment and charge
returned he to the canteen
several hours later,
kept coin on counter
and explained thus
to the cashier:

‘This was a mistake
you’ve miscalculated.’

And the cashier looked back
eyes keen with suspicion:

‘He is a fool
or else a trickster.’

He turned and left
as though from a serpent fleeing
but with a mind uncluttered
calm and feeling good.

‘That’s better,’ the god then said. 

The easy path to godliness
is to think
‘I myself am a god.’
The path to enlightenment
‘A Buddha am I.’
To think thus
and live.

And then the gods of the mind
come forth when called
the gods without
come to one’s aid,
they walk unnoticed
the paths to be walked
waylay evil
move obstacle
show correct path
if lost or led astray,
as would a fellow traveler
point out error
and show direction
to a pilgrim that erred. 

Life is a pilgrimage
where pilgrims come
from all corners
but seek same destination.

*This is the twenty second part of the translation of Mahagama Sekera's classic narrative 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, XVII, XVIII, XIXXX and XXI can be found in

[i] Bhagavad Gita

Friday, 7 November 2014

Prabuddha XXI*

The rising moon smiles
the royal temple in sila sanctity smiles
the white sands around the bo tree smile
and I smile too.

The bo tree pleases in its loveliness
calms, subdues eye and mind.

The moon is a gilded creation
coaxing out tender leaves 
copper hued,
and when these copper leaves mature
they yield to an amazing green 
music for ears and eyes no less
when leaves sway in the mildest breeze,
a sunshade exquisite
with blue sapphires embedded
to shade and shade
the earth that is mother
that is angel. 

Pure is the dawn.

The morning star in its resplendence
marks pathway for the rising sun .

Deep in the bosom of Himalayan peaks
dressed with forest
covered by snow
shines with the young rays of the sun
just like the truth pure.

Bliss is the truth.

And under the heavenly sunshade
blessed with divine fanning
at the breaking of the dawn
focused on the morning star did I
O Enlightened One!
To comprehend that
which you had comprehended
my gaze upon the Bo tree
in a gaze-giving of gratitude
silenced the mind
by all this splendor
contemplated the wonderment
that was nature’s singular conjuring,
like a painter who is done with his painting
like a connoisseur enraptured by the aesthete
in the painting discovers self,
to hear and respond
to ‘who am I?’
with a mind escaped from thought. 

“Yassa moole nisinnova - sabbari vijayam aka,
patto sabbannutam satta - vande tam bodhipadapam”.

Seated under which
the Teacher vanquished all foes,
attained Enlightenment ,
in remembrance do I venerate.

The body is the Bo tree
mind a clear mirror
required to be frequently wiped
lest dust settles on its countenance.

There never was a Bo tree
never was a mirror
delve deep
and then there never was
anything at all;
but if this was so
where was there dust
to settle upon mirror-face?

A woman in a red batik lungi
a top made of lace
smiles, blinks her eyes twice
issues forth an invite thus.

people jostling for better view
on either side of the street
await the Vesak procession.
Whips crack
and she whispers
‘Seeing you after ages,
why didn’t you visit?’
the drums up their tempo
raise the beat of insanity
the davul , hewisi and the thammattama  too
all at once
and in the midst of the peering crowd
a hand finds itself held by hand:
‘When will you come?’

‘Next week.’

The fire boys the fire balls turn
the veddahs garbed in leaves dance
there’s the udekki and the torches
the rising of beat for dancing feet
dance, song and somersaults
the eye cannot but in fire-light shine.

‘Whosoever casts lustful eyes upon a woman
in that moment unites with her in carnal embrace.’

‘We are leaving now,
so don’t you forget…

‘The procession passed
Emptiness regained the street.’

‘Your beauty for a long time
was in my thoughts etched,
and that I loved you
I never knew nevertheless.
I will come next week
to see you, somehow.’
Yathà'gàra§ succhanna§
            vuññhi na samativijjhati
Eva§ subhàvita§ citta§
            ràgo na samativijjhati.

Even as rain does not penetrate
a well-thatched house,
so does lust not penetrate
a well-developed mind..

‘Is it good or bad, this journey?’
And yet queries the mind
‘Is it good or bad, this journey?’

*This is the twenty first 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. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The parinirvana countenance

The ultimate recline
journey-end without full stop
release into the unaccepting plains
the being and non-being intersection
known by the knowing
imagined but not grasped
caught in part
in poor empathy
but to us on the this-side
of the no-side state
reason to rejoice
reason to embrace
man and word
in meditative caress.

Inspired by the line poetry of Gamini Abeykoon

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Heroes in waiting

Uniforms are order-made
hear and obey
men and women
do and die
win and lose wars
where dead-end
is a lettered wall
for honor that will not placate
the aggrieved;
and yet unstopped
by epitaph commonality
they march, run and take aim
to do the do-n-die
for bread-winning and nation
each a story
in the sad must-do lives
in might-happen lands.
that disappear
in the rising of numbers
so inevitable
for flag-fluttering tomorrows.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Queen Returns

What were those years like
would she know,
those track-ripping times
of anger and contestation
the affirmation of history by disavowal
the claim for a plot
by planting of mine
the attempted liberation of a people
by the conferring of dismemberment?
Did she know that her roar
would be out-roared
the chug-chugging out-gunned
in multi-barrel ways
that black smoke turned blacker still?
Or did she wait
in the manner of the regal
for a time that had to come
when magazines emptied
could no longer be re-filled
in the inevitable emergency

of life after death after death after death?

Monday, 27 October 2014

When I am alone

“When I am alone I become my friend” – Sybil Wettasinghe

When I  am alone
A child comes running
along a nondescript niyara
wades across canal
holds my hand
drags me to king-coconut days
of play houses and roasted Jak seeds.

When alone
I walk from time to time
peer into eyes that have not aged
gather grandmother’s love
mother’s admonishment
and after fuss and tear their work have done
flop on chair or floor
they with their chores
and I in the circles of protective eyes.

When I am alone
I toss my passport into the Kelani Ganga
take flight from Hanwella
attend rallies and meetings
visit coffeeshop conversation
lovers and love-making
from before and after.

When I am alone
I roll like a pebble in a river
find traction in a bicycle chain
and wait for all the sunsets
I had missed. 


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Beasts and burdens

One on top
and the other below
in the do and obey
of karmic script
or chance births
growing to unhappy fates
each a prisoner
of burdens ordained
that plague and plague
until the quelling
of order and submission
in some other land
some other time
later rather than sooner
as far as we can see.

[Inspired by the line drawing of Gamini Abeykoon]

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

The human landscape

Landscape immemorial
where mountains and valleys
trees and caverns
depressions and signature peaks
are born to decay
in the rise and fall
of civilization and illusion
the erosion of dream
and the reincarnation of hope
these are lines that await us
with soft-time patience.

[Inspired by the line drawings of Gamini Abeykoon]

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Saffron Song

It was the longest procession
longest in Asia
or at least in memory
so they said
of this Esala that colored street
in the saffron of renunciation
the white of adherence,
calculable in feet
or other length-units
and of the more enduring march
from here to ultimate destination
none can stop and say
‘I’ve come this far
and I’ve only that far to go,’
or ‘the long journey is almost done’
but here on the street
and from pavement
there’s much to take
from smile
and from feet
that leave no print
but re-traces nevertheless
the word that liberates.

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Monday, 13 October 2014

Imagining the Buddha

Delicate is advocated practice
and truth let’s say resides
between grip and nonchalance
delicate is the hand that crafts
posture and countenance
in ways that inspire
ways that prompt reflection
delicate has to be the eye
to reproduce the unblemished
to obtain from granite
compassion unparalleled.

[Inspired by the line drawing of the Galvihara Buddha statue by Gamini Abeykoon]

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


She was not Patācāra or Kisā Gōtami
unmarked by birth or legend
role in a nidāna kathāva to illustrate salience;
she was Sriyani
not from Sāvatti
and unmentioned in the Therigātha.
Sriyani of Bowalawatte
is hardly poetic
widowed and tumored
she did not look for mustard
from deathless households
(she knew that story)
she bore her weights
she sent her son to school
and daughter too
who a month ago
was with words struck down
two -- lung, cancer
and she went her way
just the other day
but Sriyani of Bowalawatte
had breath and word
just enough to say:
‘Think, little one, of the Buddha’
and was blessed to hear her say
‘That’s what I do, Amma’
and those words she took with her
a mustard seed as salve enough
this nun of so much fortitude.

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A lovely bunch of coconuts

A tree for the ages
from tap root to top
nothing to discard
love notes to civilization
crafted to please
sense by sense
made to make easy
sojourns brief and long
and we forget
here in this island
how naked we would be
by this generous palm.

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

The reed-wrought

Long before finger-flip, twist and turn,
the over-under of now and then another,
long before pigment and pattern,
the selection of motif
and the play of cultural politics,
long before markets and marketing,
display and sexying up,
the subduing of use-value
the consecration of exchange,
where bag is not bag but status
mat is not for ‘sat’ but wall,
long before the counting of coins
and assessment of the viable commercial
there was sun, weed and a bit of earth
and from there to now is a long story
ours to discover
our to (mis)read
and cherish.
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

All life is paper-made

Like water, let’s say
takes shape of container
or like clay malleable
can be crumpled or torn
written on or left blank
soaked in the acidity of sorrow
touched with happier hue
recycled if so wished
paper like life
is in your hands
and yet not unopen
to the re-birthing
with blade and brush.

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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Blessings of Blackness

A blessing!
That’s another name to the dark
for underside makes the apparent
shade parents illumination
interdependencies rule
but eye,
perennial deceiver
takes line
gathers shine
relegates to oblivion
the maker
refuses to bless
in denominational privileging.

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Kelani Viharaya

What is the underside of delicate 
if not the coarse,
what is the reverse of  transience 
if not firm of faith,
where is the resolution 
of opposites
the unity of  the disparate 
what is the name of that mark
whner lay ends and bikkhu begins,
where is the path 
and what signs say 
‘this way is illusion
and that, 
it is not known
but will be
by and by,
it is believed.

[Inspired by the photography of Dileeshiya Ilangakoan]

Monday, 8 September 2014

Leaf Song

Leaf-days and leaflessness
time-swept lives that came,
stayed and went away,
cloud formations ever re-configuring,
thoughts that strayed
and things that remained
sentinels see it all
but some hear all secrets
of careless yield
and forget
in conveniences learned
for things that come
must move or perish
like leaves that find root
and nourish
in cycles pre-determined
in un-inked long-agos.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Guaranteed Refuge

Veneration has residences
tarries on fingertips
ancient combinations
of movement and tune
the working on drum
tight whip-grip
replication of lightning
invoking in scripted order
an outcome collectively sought;
veneration is a thread
running through pageant
whispering through music
the festival of sound
a thin light-sliver
stitching devotion
side stepping spectacle
and in the midst of it all
the silent acknowledgment
of enduring giver
of unmeasured strength
assured, assured, assured refuge:
the Dalada Hamuduruwo.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

My father who is in another world

I don’t know about you
but I’ve cried
in secret when I could
and at times tears came too fast
to run or hide;
I don’t know about you
but I think you were stronger
I don’t know about you,
maybe you could swallow your heart
and suck back your eyes
or do whatever it was
so I could never see
not even for a moment
regret or remorse
sorrow for what you’ve done
or could not do or say,
I don’t know about you,
but if we talk temperature
no tears as hot have I known
than those marked ‘child’
for I’m father
much more than child, lover, friend
or citizen;
I don’t know about you
but maybe half a century
is too short a time
to know or see,
I don’t know about you
and your father,
and if you’ve thought this way
and wondered,
but for now
I will err on the side of hope
and worship for all the tears
I’ve never seen you cry
or for the distance
that makes for happy drought.  

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