Sonder

To the Prostitute’s man by the Marine Drive Supermarket

Five forty am:

I watched you watch her

try to scrape the last chance of last night

before it faded fast into the sunlight.

– with an old man in a clean sarong

and a shirt ironed to a crispness

-that ratted a wife back home.

 

Although while scanning her shape through the skirt,

he licked his lips,

he was the type who kept his nose too clean

to go behind the Keells supermarket with her kind;

Besides it was getting too bright to hide.

 

She came back to you defeated.

 

~

 

They say you both would do anything

for a shot of heroin,

and that it was all your doing.

Is that true?

 

Did you ever love her?

Before the hell holes, strangers’ invasion and teeth rot,

was she ever beautiful?

I hear her curse you, shrilling the night

but in the morning she is still around

in the thick of your shit fight.

 

What is she holding on to in you?

– is it something sad and sentimental like

the music trapped between the dust on a forgotten wedding bouquet?

– or is it something logical like

the last thread of convention?

– or something dignified like

’till death do us part’?

– or is it just reason lost in the wind

somewhere in the mundane plains of habit?

 

 

~

 

Seven am:

Sunday morning

as Colombo lay dry sleeping,

and hungover cars were leaving

with leftovers of Saturday night and Pillawoos,

I saw you again.

 

Standing in a daze of junk

with one palm outstretched to the ocean,

it looked as if you were blessing

the great, big sea of salty tears.

 

Was that for her?

                  

Boy on East 5th Street (4th of July), 1984.

Image – Ken Schles – Boy in the East 5th Street at the height of heroin, 1984

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Sonder

To the little Southern girl on the beach: Part two

It’s alright, catch your breath.

You’ve run so far, she can’t see your pain;

Your little friend- the prettier one

with scar-less skin

and a face that peaked too soon to kill

a human heart.

 

Babe, have you ever heard of the tale

of a little, ugly duckling that lived by a lake?

It’s true.

I’ve seen it living, breathing by a convent wall,

at a dancing class, a high school fair, and at last

growing between two little girls in the seaside South.

 

You know babe,

legends are made from truth,

flesh and clay.

How do you think

I know your story

so well?

 

Don’t worry little duck, you’ll do fine,

because pain teaches delicate things.

But, her…she’ll die a slow death in her heart.

 

In warped time and place

I’ve seen her married to an idea’s face and boredom,

because she never knew beauty’s labour.

                     

dayanita-singh-gayle-and-sister-goa-2000-2005-deutsche-bank-collection

Image – Dayanita Singh, Gayle and sister, Goa 2000/2005. Deutsche Bank Collection ©

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Sonder

To the little Southern girl on the beach: Part one

I see you rolling in sand wearing only a swim bottom.

I envy your bare brown freedom

because my chest is too old to be brazenly sunburnt

and to be removed of the sex that has grown all over.

Wait little babe

they’ll soon crown you too, with chains.

 

I see you chase her across the beach- your other little friend,

the prettier one with lighter skin

and better hung baby meat.

She’d let you chase her but never touch,

and dropping your hands on knees you stopped,

breathless.

 

There was boundary on the sand –

the dusky part that the ocean wet

and the crisp white half that it could never get.

She was on the other side-

the one that stayed untouched by salt tears.

She laughed and laughed because…

 

You know babe,

she will break your heart one day.

It’ll either be,

that boy who’ll look at her right through you,

or the world that breaks you with its blind love young beauts.

She’ll take down your stars.

 

Babe, it’s alright,

let your knees crash to the ground.

You’ll survive.

 

But, let me tell you a secret;

a shortcut,

a little byway to no pain.

 

Next time you run up to her

let her eyes shine for a moment

but, turn around,

throw your chest in the Southern wind

to run laughing.

Babe, don’t even think about turning.

 

Wickedness is just a game that we are playing.

                                            

http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/about/

Image by Arthur Morris

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Sonder

Midnight man in Bambalapitiya: part 3

Was that you inside your face?
You said you had a name,
but it wasn’t Midnight.
 
Carrying a house on back you said
you’re going to build a shack on promised land – it was free,
and it’ll have a wife and windows facing the sunset,
coloured walls, a bed and other sensible things.
 
You’ve remembered you have a son, who also has a little son-
I guess breeding makes sense
because when there are no more empty spaces left
you never have to look at yourself again.
 
I wanted to ask why, but it’s a wolfish world
and asking why is rude and unwarranted.
So I said I’ll come visit you sometime.
 
I went left and you went right.
The city moaned in smoke, heat and honks
and under my feet the earth shook
because somewhere, somehow a saint had died.  

     

Image – Chris Burden

 

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What kills men

There is a man next door,

paid to watch an empty land in Colombo-4;

It’s big enough, city enough to make his master rich.

He sits there all day watching over Marine Drive

and the ocean rolled different blues one after the other.

 

The first week I saw him, framed by my balcony door,

up at quarter to seven,

strutting out straight,

shaved, hair combed, shirt ironed and cigarette in hand-

a man with a mission.

He sat on his throne,

and his gaze cut through the salt dragging down the air

sharp and certain like a bone.

 

A full moon came and went,

and the wind direction changed,

so the clouds

left west.

And, the ocean rolled more blues.

 

Yesterday, I looked closer at his side profile,

while he sat centred precise between

the land’s end and Marine Drive.

 

He was mostly dead.

His chair was plastic and dusty.

His gaze hung limp like noon leaves. And he

was mostly dissolved in sea.

His cigarette was the only thing breathing.

 

My god, I think,

it’s not guns that kill men – not like this.

I must give him a pack

and a book

because dead men are terrible things

to live next to.

         https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/apprentice/

image

Image by Matt Frantz

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To the rich church girl in Colombo

I like you better drunk

because your mother’s wrapping comes undone

and the lines from the book zoom out of focus.

You stop looking around for someone

to notice that you’re having fun- so, it’s really not as boring.

 

I know why your shoulders droop

between the laughter and that you

hear the silence in the sky in secret moments.

But, the wine makes it easier

to drown that damn quietness and forget what you know better.

 

So drink away Laila,

you’re better off drunk sweetheart,

because then you can blame all the questions on wine;

and on the fact that this particular one was

actually really nice.

 

You swore that it was all about

bringing there poor people around

to the idea of love, peace and the rest…

But, we’re both old enough to know that only dust is really pure

and that money is what religion makes the best.

 

Yes, it’s easier to hand your pearl away

to something that you learn to live,

because your mother said it is the case.

Hey, after all, family is everything,

the one thing you should never ditch, right?

 

Right. Drink some more wine.

Inheritance is a funny thing;

it gives you a person to exist in

and comes funded with a legacy

that you can hold up as high as a head.

 

Maybe, just maybe,

the price of your pearl is worth it,

because now

money can never scare you and dust can never touch you-

it’s a pretty sweet place to call home.

 

I want to buy a sunset;

you want to rent a whirlwind;

so, whether I’m right or wrong,

and justice lives in the sky or not,

we’re all set for tears and dusty bones.

 

So I won’t stop looking,

and you shouldn’t stop drinking,

because whirlwinds or sunsets, don’t come cheap.

You know, Laila

you’re not the worst thing.    

   

image

Image – Jean Christian Rostagni

 

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Midnight man in Bambalapitiya: part 2

The neighborhood was drowning,

the clock has ordered marching but

the sun was already choking red;

it was too red, too late, to

peel off the standard paint

to regain ourselves again.

 

You were resolutely faded

seated, accepted, constructed

made up to meet the sane men.

You said that they fixed it,

beat it, stomped it and killed it

so that you could be

held back, one of them.

 

I wonder how I knew you

from all the dead men running to

get their hearts pulled out from their chests

just to belong, to have reasons well known,

because bleeding always makes

too much of a mess.    

   

Image - Misha Gordin

Image – Misha Gordin

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