Friday, 18 September 2015


From over-used books
he collected words
from life
he used all his eyes
to see and see through
he read and read
and in some unknown place
where metaphors converged
and narrative and narrator
unclothed one another
and burst out laughing
at the impossibly grotesque
he stopped.

That was when, I am certain
the words came to him
from treetop and taproot
scooped from a slice of mango
squeezed from an overripe pineapple
distilled from tears from back bedroom sorrow
culled from tropical winds
        immemorial chants and the music of wonderment
harvested from footprint and an old man's discontent
his weather beaten heart was vessel
for the stirring of humility and humiliation.

And thus he cooked stories
and poetic relish
as flavor-perk
for a price
at his Good Food Restaurant
decent meals at affordable prices.

If it was just that
I would still write of him, I am sure
but this quiet cook,
this tenderizer of imagination,
after offering all he could,
found the more he satiated
the more hungry he became
and so he offered his belly
for poetic fulfillment.

He went from door to door
with a begging bowl
this mendicant
from a half-way house
between metaphoric insanities
'a verse
or two
for a verse-starved man,
if you please,'
he begged.
And they gave
the literate did
those who have words
and who knew
that silence and space
garnished and spiced
better than fresh coinage;
he picked, he chose
this discerning gatherer
of verbal remedies
to deaden the pain
of life's incurables
at times with provoked smile
and now with pinprick prod
to ouse a tear or two,
he picked, he chose
and gathered between covers
the poetry
that may not save the world
but still save a reader
or two.

Subsidizer of poetry,
collector of garbage
recycler of sweeter memories
transformer of nightmare
into sufferable dream
who doesn't fictionalize
a land and a people
that aren't fictitious,
conjurer of jathaka-katha
benefactor of poets,
friend and teacher
who makes old men weep
even on Aluth Avurudda,
this long note
I cannot make short
for I am not you,
you who collapses epics
into drops of poetry
and with deft touch of heart
turn word into a reservoir of stories,
this long note
is a brag:
I know something

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


The one.
Give her the last word
and she'll return it
with love.
The other.
Will give you the last word
and keep the hurt,
but give her love
she'll teach 
beyond words.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Love Rituals

There's public and private
norms and normlessness 
in the one I dare not murmur 
though I must
I utter and she snaps
that cord between heart and reason
and helplessly heartless
harsh word and dark look
compete with one another
and in exchange --
she's too beautiful to lose,
I concede.
In the other
there's metamorphosis 
all water and air
things that move
tease and heal
continental shifts
and the turning of word-gravel
fair exchange 
no competition 
and yet 
at the end of ocean 
and the disappearing of breeze
it's her word that that rises
it's her voice
that I take as a kiss
and her smile 
that turns the windmills of my heart.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Prabuddha XXV

O Enlightened One!
did thou abandon art
for that singular reason
of being such a poet
with as sensitive a mind?

From tradition freed
from advice and instruction too
bereft of belief in letters and words
on one’s mind converging direct
seeing one’s being in all clarity — 
thus is obtained Enlightenment.

Niranjala came as though in a dream
lay down beside him on the bed.
‘You’ve not fallen asleep yet?’
She put her arm around his neck
touched his face 

The lamp in the hall
lit for the Buddha 
still flickers.
Soft light from it ensues 
approaches them.
The soft drizzle 
that for so long had fallen
turned into a downpour then. 

The falling rain 
in crescendo and decrescendo 
to his ear was music exquisite
it was the sacred Om that he heard 

Music was a vehicle 
that transported
to the universal soul 
Is my soul 
but minute part
of that entirety?
Is there soul,
isn’t there?
When in slumber so deep
not even dream can intrude 
that ‘I’ that exists then
is it ‘soul’?

When lamp lights lamp
in the fire thus given
there is no relationship
neither is there isn’t —
is the ‘I’ upon death 

Niranjala took away her hand

And then he awoke int the world.
Then did he think:
‘This is my wife.’

You are my wife: who brings me tea in the morning
You are my wife: who with love takes care of the children
You are my wife: who is quietly alert about me always
You are my wife: from lifetime to lifetime across Samsara

For a moment I left
left home and world 
in an Abhinishkramana departure 
even as I slept with you,
did I not,
without the horse Kanthaka 
and without crossing 
the flowing river Anoma?
Leaving is not leaving home,
but distancing from life.
Will I build a house, ever?
Are you destined with the children
in rented spaces to live?

You may at times feel fear
fearful that I would leave
even from here
one day,
and that’s why you said:
‘I think of the children
all the time,
of the future 
I think,
don’t you, ever?’

‘You are correct Niranjala,
This is a departure,
an abhinikmana of the mind
in another world do I dwell
most of the day
and so wake me up
drag me back
to this world;
I will bring for the boy
a necklace 

For you too,
something, a dress, perhaps,
will I bring.

A great kindness towards her
was born then within him.
The lamp had gone out
the rain persisted.
He kissed her face
with tenderness
drew her close;
there was lust 
but also compassion
just there

When you feed the boy even as you bear the pangs of hunger
when you comfort the weeping child even as sobs shake your mind
when I see that you know my mind better than I do

noting of the human heart’s sweetness do you birth in me.

This translation of Mahagama Sekera's epic poem 'Prabuddha', is an exercise that has the permission and blessings of the immediate family of the poet.