Saturday, 24 December 2016

While you were gone….

While you were gone we stuck flowers in our hair and filled socks with sand — FB post by Kalani Kumarasinghe
Socks with sand and balloons with water
flowers in hair and shadows from petrified rocks
ashes that will fight to differentiate 
and dust that dances, sings and settles down

Laughter filtered from overnight rain
frowns banished to adultness unwished
floating scoops of ice-cream
find cones called forth by a clap of hands

policemen on roller-blades 
chase pedestrian crossings 
freed from the tyranny of tar
and the weariness of feet

was that a clarinet going higher than the highest tree
was it a squirrel that drew the curtains
was it the monsoon that’s curled in a mangosteen
and why couldn’t the avocado decide if it’s vegetable or fruit?

someone stuck flowers somewhere 
someone filled the balloons
someone alarmed an alarm clock
and a clothes line asked for tea

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Do you hear the sound of that laughter?

Bus goes over precipice; eight including the driver dead, 29 seriously injured News Item

“There was no mist at the time. I was in the front part of the bus.  There were no vehicles coming from the opposite direction, but the driver for no apparent reason suddenly turned the bus towards the precipice” a survivor

With a shaking left hand
driver of sixty three dash seventeen fifteen
the day’s first gear fell
giving out a gora-gora sound
the bus came out of the depot
and began climbing the mountains

Each time he checked the road
from the side glass on the right 
he only saw his wife
whose three month’s almsgiving
was done two days before

From the rear view mirror
frequently peeped
his little boy
who drew 
Thaththa’s bus
again and again

The echo of the horn
the bell that rant near his ear
he didn’t hear
his wife’s voice came through clear

“Further up near a bend
there’s been an earth-slip
I will warn you Nande
when you get closer

What did you have for dinner
and what did our son draw yesterday
and the little girl Nande
can she now plait her hair all on her own

In the midst of a ring of mountains filled with tears
upon the grass on that yonder slope 
there’s one singular place still Nande
where we can laugh

Can you hear the sound of that laughter….”

[translation of "ඇහෙනවද ඒ සිනා සද්දේ " from the collection "මීළඟ මීවිත" by Ruwan Bandujeewa]

Saturday, 17 December 2016


Clutching a posy of coffee flowers
at the foot of the mighty Uthuwankande
Mammale my friend,
there's sobbing I can hear --
it's Menaka

By the Hingula waters
to sit you down,
with a silver hairpin
I once from a bungalow took
decorate those locks
already bedecked with coffee-flowers,
step back and admire, 
another day will not dawn
not for me

Clutching a posy of coffee flowers
at the foot of the mighty Uthuwankande
there's sobbing I can hear --
it's Menaka.

[At Bogambara, on the 7th day of May in the year 1864]

[translation of "මේනකා" from the collection "මීළඟ මීවිත" by Ruwan Bandujeewa]

Friday, 16 December 2016

Dry lullabies

Where’s your mother gone?
To the chena of course
The loner was already there
they say

When I heard
to the chena I ran
and saw little beads of milk
all over its trunk

Where’s your father gone?
Why, to sell the rice
No, no, I lied
to gulp kaneru seeds he went

Look! A she-elephant
Peeping through the electric fence
Where’s my baby,

with a broken voice she asks

[translation of "වියළි නැළවිලි" from the collection "මීළඟ මීවිත" by Ruwan Bandujeewa]

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Canal

The well-dressed canal
walks through the paddy-fields

That an insomniac reservoir
had these clothes stitched
the canal has not
to a single rice stalk whispered
as yet

[translation of "ඇළ" from the collection "මීළඟ මීවිත" by Ruwan Bandujeewa]

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Gardner

The princess 
to the rose garden came
and sought the gardner out

Pull out the weeds
burn them all
ordered she

Upon the small weed flowers
but to an up-close gaze

The gardner stood
and saw

and heaved a heavy sigh. 

[translation of "උයන්පල්ලා" from the collection "මීළඟ මීවිත" by Ruwan Bandujeewa]

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Dear Grackle, how happy you must be!

“The Devi Ulakudaya
to a boy has given birth
Dear Grackle
how happy you must be!

The king will no doubt reward you now
and shower veneration on the author-bikkhu
for seven full days from now in Kotte
all manner of celebration there will be”

“The journey was nothing like the poem
no food, nothing to drink, no place to sleep
of what was described nothing did I see
I could not an order disobey
and to the God Vibheeshana passed the note

Listen, friend! While I was away
a rat-snake of formidable size destroyed my home
my daughter’s feathers were all over the place
and my love, of grief and a broken heart did die

The Devi Ulakudaya, the king and the haamuduruwo
they send three messages of condolence, this is true
but did not visit, said not one small word
at the funeral my sorrow to ease…”

[translation of "සැළලිහිණියෝ උඹට කොහොම සතුටක් ඇත්ද?" from the collection "මීළඟ මීවිත" by Ruwan Bandujeewa]

*The reference is to the Salalihini Sandeshaya (or 'The Grackle Letter') and epic poem written by Ven Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera in the 15th Century during what is often referred to as the Golden Age of Sinhala Literature at the time King Parakramabahu VI reigned in Kotte.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016


What was it?
What was that thing
that danced all over keyboards
leaving paw prints in rainbow colours,
what was it that spoke 
of a heretic being stoned
and roses so soft
they cut glass?
What did rasakinda extract
in an absurd wrapping of heart?
What was that time
which passed as fragrance and syllable
in a cosmic synethesia —
a strain unnamed 
on account of rarity
and dismissed
as the mere ramblings 
of a lunatic
miseducated and lost

in territories too barren to map?  

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The tree and the vine

[a love story]

To the vine, the tree said thus:
Look at you, poor thing!
Can’t stand straight,
condemned to crawl!
Come, dear one,
use me, climb
and survey
the vastness of the earth

To the tree, the vine replied:
Look at you, poor thing!
Rooted and immobile
denied exploration
and so, so very naked!
But fear not, love
conquests shall I forego 
and encounters that delight,
I shall spin a yarn
clothe and decorate
and from embarrassment liberate!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Night Scoops

stationed and alert
the decree of reflected light
penumbral tenderness 
I scoop from the edges of night
and like holy ash anoint --
on forehead
and whisper
a timeless mantra
"Go, go to heart edge
seek laceration,

[Pic, courtesy]

Friday, 4 November 2016


Silence is a product 
of all the songs
the high notes and low
the impossible mix
of birth and death
the concert of pauper and king
blend of unvanquished yesterdays
and impossible tomorrows;
silence is voice
cutting across memory 
navigating disbelief 
the marriage of the inevitable
with the fervent belief of immortality;
he’s gone
and in going
turned a country into a song
lined with the most transparent
of tears
music that drips
from life-edge and heart
so delicate
it’s called ‘silence’
for lack of better word
to describe 
a voice that’s gone
but stays

and stays. 

[Pic, Sandra Mack]

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Status Update

Icons that burst into a thousand hearts
a snap, a tear, a kiss
a comfort zone and a dead end
togetherness and fracture --
in preferred colours and frill 
the art direction of love
in cyberspace is short-handed
but on this side of your news feed
hidden from timeline 
oblivious to like, share and comment
true hearts beat and break 
at impossibility
that hard-drive collapse too soft to save
the irretrievable moments 

of love that was or will not be.

Saturday, 27 August 2016


A flurry of photographs
On a long black roll
That’s presentation
On the hell-heaven highway
Where few know
The cities at the end
Of left and right;
They are placed
In the nonchalance of liquid love
Open to the leaf-turn of wind and laughter
Framed by words
And the random intoxication
Of metaphors
And separated by the giggles of the insane
The genius glue of twist and spurn
And the embrace of divinities –
You were born in an unknown continent
And fly to galaxies unnamed
Re-birthing at every turn of whim
Far more than the 41 mentioned
in certificate and data base –

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Softer still

Freshly unfolded leaves
breeze touch at a desert sunset 
light drops at a high altitude sunrise 
a baby's cheek
after bath, after wipes
and talcum blush
all soft
as other things unnamed
and yet
softer still is 
moment-after gaze
birthed by love's timeless submissions
and yet again
the silence 
of departures
[in the name of love]
is softer still
so much, 
so much

Monday, 20 June 2016


The classic version:
Steal a face
make a mould
then the mask
sell it back
demand and obtain gratitude.

Or alternatively:
Destroy spirit
Conjure replacement
lace it with the usual poisons --
poor, underdeveloped, backward
and as Gourevitch said
the robbed inhabit
the robber's version
of their reality
and look up whispering
'rich, developed, advanced'.

But today
an identity was stolen:
picture pick
same name
new page 
and yet
hearts are hearts
like heartbeats of nations
a hundred fakes 
cannot draw spirit
cannot impoverish
cannot say 'this is who you are'.

Some hearts are not for sale
and not for stealing. 

Friday, 10 June 2016


Road ribbons of blue
wander among the green locks;
sorrow stains wash city cheeks
in the unending monsoon of absence. 

Saturday, 4 June 2016


On the other side of the rain mirror
in the lush comfort of blurry seasons
sun-drop and rain-drop
in wild carnalilty 
print an immemorial tease.

On this side of deceit
there's a floodplain 
where word-debris eyesore
forces blink or look-away.

For she's diminished 
in a conspiracy of circumstances 
where a harsh-word summoned
a dimensional-swirl and necessary silence.

She's close.

Closer than rain-drench
right here in dismissal and neglect
in the lost pages of unwritten books
that resist translation 
closer now in the eloping of ink
where ignorant rush
hangs broken heart-bits of blue and green
from the edge of night-trysts that came undone.

Same size
same butterflies 
in same back-forth flutter
of crazy words 
where love-scripts are re-written
in the lucidity of silence
rising as black-white monologue
and tracing the inevitable:
the floral pattern
of post-kiss time-freeze. 

Thursday, 2 June 2016


Love in requitedness 
unfolds into butterflies and petals
and in its going and gone
collapses into voids so blessed 
that screams are exquisitely private
all kiss-me-nots and exquisite brambles
conscious venture into known traps
nights of lunacy
and deaths that never arrive,
softness that brims in eyes
and the edge of daybreaks;
soft hurts are hard-takes
and will not roll fingers into fist
stops at lip-edge 
is nudged from the high plateaus of innocence
but will not be embraced by earth-slip;
it's hard, so hard that it floats
among brigands and ghosts
the pickpockets of hope,
so soft is soft push-away
it yields a fragrance exquisite and lethal
tortures, but never kills.  

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The beginning and end of forever

Forever begins
with heart-stop,
a virginal rebirthing
and umbilical dissolve
that separates and erases
all illusion
of heart, touch and things mis
Forever never ends, though;
it just gets lost in the
Alzheimeic plains
of reason and other encounters
The first love is also the last, I think. 

[From the collection 'Some texts are made of leaves', shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize 2011]

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Ode to banishment

Beyond the railway track
parallel lives merge 
with words and laughter
and unexpected meeting of eyes
that obliterate narrative 
they are airlifted
from the island of  sorrow;
beyond lunchtime exchanges
heart-food digests 
with the after-wash
of spray and rain
tosses the gospels of love
re-numbers time's sad pages;
and in the later this-side
of trains and food
I am told
'I am sick of words'
and banished
to vast word-less continents
and unhappily un-merged. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Crazy love dreams

Over an embankment 
and exotic insomnia
tripping along stepping stones
in improbable arrangement
between and through library shelves 
surreptitious tiptoeing 
among forbidding commonalities 
in the flipping of scripts 
and recovered transliteration
thus did memory roll slumber 
and yielded the you 
of that other time of color 
so diminished now.

Monday, 9 May 2016


And so I write to report,
that in the ambivalent crafting of landscape
that is city,
this symphony of multitude and madness,
in the discoloring of green and blue
among the soft stone in hard arrangement,
in the grand aggregate
and glossy individuality that contains nothing,
this too may pass in the relentless dissolve of time;
but perhaps a random girl
a creature of polite address and conversation,
petal and hue in a grand bouquet
of thorn, weed and synthetic assembly,
like a faint, familiar fragrance,
trapped in the amber of memory,
may remain.

[From the collection 'The Underside of Silence']

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Wine Sutra

Lips are for wine
of a particular kind
but grape drawn intoxication
dark red or gold
is discolored and poor
against the liquid maturities
of heart aged wineries
that give distilled word-essence
and the exotic silent aftertaste –
and yet, for all the delights
of lip and heart
your extensive vineyard gives
it is the trace of fingertipped grace
on fingertip-lips
that’s wine unsurpassed.

Friday, 29 April 2016

පසන් කොඩිකාර

ආවා ගියා ද 
ගිහින් ආවද  
මෙහේම හිටියද 

ඒ කෙසේ වෙතත්... 

හීන් ම හීන් හඬකි 
ඇසුන නෑසුන 
අතැඟිලි අතරින් ගිලිහෙන 
දැනෙන නොදැනෙන ස්පර්ශයෙන් 
නොමැකෙන දෑ  කළ.

පිටස්තරයෙකි පිටුවහල් කළ 
හැඳුනුම් පතක් නොමැති 
නන්නාඳුනන හිතවතෙකි 
අනේවාසිකකම් කියා දෙන  
නික්මයාම තුල ජීවමානයි 
පරාජිතයි ඔහු අප පැරදුන බැවින් 
පිබිදී සිටී අප  අවදි කළ  බැවින්
තවමත් අසල්වාසියෙකි  
විශ්වාස කළ සත්‍යයන් ද 
අවතැන් වීම වෙනුවෙන්ද 
පෙනී සිටි බැවින් 
දෛනික සිපිරිගෙදරින් 
පලා  ගොස් 
තහනම් දේශයේ සිත් සේ 
මං පෙත් හෙළි කළ බැවින්  
මළවුන් අතර ජීවත් වූ බැවින්  
මියගොස් ජීවිතයට වරමක් 
දිනාගත් බැවින් 
කළු-සුදු විශ්වයකට  
වර්ණ වත් කරයි 
හීන් ම හීන් හඬකින් 
සුවඳකින් නම් කල නොහැකි.   

For Pasan Kodikara

He came in and went out
or was it the other way about?
he was a whisper and a fragrance
utterly intangible
and yet with intangibility stamped
a presence that stayed and stayed;
he was ‘out’
as in outcast and un-belonged
he was ‘in’ 
in a way we could never be,
in life
in song
in word
in love
omnipresent in absence
absent in his astrally 
lost because we were lost
found because he found us
just by being
by inhabiting fidelity
to held beliefs of un-belonging
by trespassing 
out of everyday prisons 
by living 
among the dead
by dying
to enter the afterlife 
of life he crafted
with whisper and fragrance.

Also read:

තිරය විවර වූයේ පරිපූර්ණ බොහීමියානුවාගේ නික්ම යෑමට යි

පසන් කොඩිකාර: පරිවර්තනයේ අතුරුදහන් වූ කවියෙක්