Colombo looks like a bride tonight

Colombo looks like a bride tonight;

lovely, wet,

born in the morning,

heart racing, jewels burning;

here for tomorrow,

sweet, gratifying—like fresh milk rolling down your throat.


Colombo looks like a bride tonight,

whose girlhood dreams were subject to the earth’s gravitational pull

—a practical brown, boxy and tied down.

A girl whose thoughts were borrowed from the eight-thirty show.

but perfectly nice and with a secret alleyway between her breasts.


She’ll cry on her wedding night.


Colombo looks like a bride tonight

—a woman who knows better than to question happiness.

She knows that the moment joy touches your fingers

is when you hear that distant thunder.

Her best secrets—like dirty, old men—

left homeless, roaming loose and unloved

like cheap asbestos roofs quietly disintegrating

poison-proofing hearts that sleep underneath them.


Colombo looks like a bride tonight.

A woman cut open and left awake at 2am

as the lonely train runs down Marine drive,

for nothing—driving no one.


Colombo looks like a bride tonight-

lovely, pious, shiny and alone,

because it’s a long weekend and

everyone left for home

—never more empty and never more beautiful.

Photograph: Max Murrell, 2017, ‘Trees in the dark’,, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Human thing 

This human thing,

it cuts:

it heals, it hurts:

it is the thing that man’s god hates the most.

This human thing

is a thing of shame and miles and miles of sunshine.

This human thing,

is a thing that sang,

made breakfast,

watched Netflix

and at pictures of beautiful flats;

played Pokemon Go,

shopped for Christmas,




loved and


while cities of ants burnt

with their secret mines of gold.

Then everything

fell slowly

and bewilderingly apart

till humans things were dug open to find

a sun

that burns children, women and men

shooting air bombs.


The prophets are late,

or someone,




Sunlight catches traces of smoke from fighting in Aleppo’s ancient souq by Tom Westcott


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