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.



Image by Matt Frantz


Aching Tuesday

Five am chimes drowsy

buried in layers of dust moments

down in the bone trenches;

an old habit

creaking through sixty-two years of debris

casting feeble spots on the bedside wall.


Out there the pink is breaking grey

in rhythm with each muscle and cell

hurting back into senses.


Streams of water rolling down the throat

is louder than the clouds after the drought

but, it’s set even on the pattern on the drinking glass,

set in the programme

and part of the monsoon.


Sitting down with the walls

the last bit of love in the house spills out the window

to run down miles, miles and miles…

across the day that was just erected

out of dry twigs breaking crisp

under the weight of

the no man’s land,

the beastly nothing,

the doesn’t matter-

the deadweight of



Picture - Art by Margaux Othats

Picture – Art by Margaux Othats