Verse

The most important night of the year 

Things laid out carefully for the most important night of the year;

a private place hanging from the edge of an island,

fireworks,

dream pills,

a few heads that can talk and laugh,

a menu with options.

 

Bottled sparkles

to fill up the holes between conversation

with stars,

and light up the crystals lost in eyes.

 

Nevertheless,

it was the same.

 

In the morning between rocks, seashells, open bottles and sand

there were people broken

ordinary

by the quiet horror of

another day.

                           

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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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Verse

The containing of it all

But,

I had to hold still

for if I were to spin,

what would shower out of my robe are

stars

stars, stars.

                        

maimouna-guerresi

Image by Maïmouna Guerresi

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Verse

Monsoon salt

It was in the heart of May

that the salt armies rose from the ocean

and marched in with quiet determination

– the kind of determination fraught in things

made to carry out the will of another being,

like machine guns or cities.

They crawled in through the slits of air underneath windows and doors

to take over, to tighten crystal saline around our throats,

to numb us all.

Perhaps out of kindness, in preparation

for the war.

 

Next came the most terrifying thing-

a lull;

a godforsaken, vast terrain where you shake from the panic of being alone

knowing that any minute now…

everything could change

into anything.

 

It must be true –

the old saying about the calm before the storm,

because then came the winds with

black sails tied to their song:

ominous and set to drop bombs

on Colombo.

 

In came the rain,

humbling away all the hard work of manmade days

down the rapids of muddy waterways.

 

The next morning,

mankind floated

on the glimmer of end-of-the-world rivers

and for an hour of crushed devastation,

in a small death of civilisation,

everything was innocent

and beautiful again.

                       

Image by bhphotovideo

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Bring me the night

In the dark,

everything melts nameless

and sound itself, quiet.

 

What a thing it is,

to not be.

 

Come crickets,

fireflies,

wash over me.

Bring me the night.

               

image-all-rights-reserved-by-julie-paterson

Image by Julie Paterson

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A Southern wedding: part 2

There’s an island lore, warning to never trust a word you hear

once you cross the Bentara river

beyond which,

the South begins

where witches were born and men cut up by beauty would go to live.

 

The strangers who flew in on a storm

took the Southern beauty home – their new bride delightful like a vulgar schoolboy song.

But, they don’t know

the reason she smiles more than she talks, or the men buried in her tomb.

Do they know that she only ever loved the ocean?

-the salt that ravages her

and leaves her with enough tears for another hundred years.

It’s one of those unhealthy addictions.

 

There she goes.

She made a beautiful bride for the seventeen thousandth time.

 

The radio said

there are more strangers

coming to see her from all over the world;

they can’t wait to get cut open.

 

Shining her gold, she’s ready to take them all.

The beauty of the South is sad no more.

               

Image – kamalambi.blogspot.com

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An important deduction

Love, let’s break us down,

into logical things, into probable things.

Let’s ask why our paths crossed behind the stadium that night

and how much magic your mouth put into mine when they wound up.

Let’s be ruthless for once, and analyse how far we can make

it might save us in the end.

 

I’ve had dreams where I see your back melting into a crowded place

You didn’t mean to- I know,

life just dragged you along the riptide.

It happens.

All it takes is, nothing.

 

If you go,

there’s one good thing for me.

I will be free to become the worst thing

to walk this Earth.

I can let go the ugly thing in me

and let it burn every beautiful thing down to the ground

hounding town after town.

If you go,

that’s the plan.

Always have a plan.

 

I will consume us. Isn’t that what the astrologer said anyway?

-that I’ll bring your end?

But, you’re still here.

Worse,

I’m still here.

 

If you stay…

I don’t really care much about anything else then…

everything goes. I’ll even grow a traveller’s palm in our garden.

But, for how long, my love?

If nothing else breaks us, our own bodies will-

we are a treacherous species.

 

Love, what would we do with ‘forever’?

                        

Image – Minna Keene, Pomegranates 1906. Royal Photographic Society

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