Verse

Of sunsets and pain in paradise 

The sun is burning anyway;

it doesn’t need more pain.

Earthly love

is hardly ever a bargain.
 

Life cuts

as often as it wets our hearts

with soft clouds

dipped in orange dyed lagoon sunsets.
 

And we are left beating

with the fish washed fresh

off the warm waters

at some faraway paradise bay.
 

Image by Andy Moine

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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 hers?

 

 

           

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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Verse

Utopia at ten thirty am

There is one single minute in the late morning

that mankind can be loved during.

It comes around ten thirty when the air is light and creamy

and the city is awake

but it’s not hungry yet.

The children are set to work with men

the sounds the machines squeak are earnest

and the human device becomes beauty.

 

Utopia is born.

 

Come ten thirty one,

a shadow shifts to the morning

and crows take over everything

ravenous.

 

Eden can only live a minute.

       

Image by Laurent Van Assche

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Sonder

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.

       

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Image by Matt Frantz

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Verse

Scream boys, scream 

The train was pulling to Kandy, stopping at every insignificant town uphill.

At each tunnel the boys would hang their lungs out the windows like paper bags, and scream.

 

Two compartments downwind, I wonder what they look like;

the shrill voice between the hoarse ones must have a face like mine-

angled, hard-pointed against things that could potentially hurt.

The others must have round eyes polished with wicked boyishness

like the severe gleam in kitten eyes – recklessly pointless;

challenging every wise old man word that history ever recorded.

Their time, their best cast out the window, over the edge of substance, dipping dangerously into the meaningless

– just like that, deliciously luxurious.

 

I remember an old March,

maybe nineteen ninety nine’s;

We snuck out of math and rode the school garbage cart in rounds

– in glorious, mindless circles all around the clock’s noon turn.

Even the sun and the trees shone and shook frivolous.

 

But at some point, the grand end of it all creeps up your throat, into your head;

through the body aches, skin beginning to sag or the white wisdom threads

you hear earth’s sad moaning mortal quakes.

So, you slowly stop breathing for the fear of tipping over the edge.

And happiness, what can it do? It’s like that person everyone talks about, but in bed you find them overrated and drunk.

 

Isn’t it a strange thing that, to really relish in something, you mustn’t actually love it?

Because the fear of death can suffocate your nerve ends from celebrating.

 

They scream again, the young fucks.

 

So, scream boys, scream

because immortality is a now or never thing.

Soon, you’ll be too heavy to hang so loose out in the wind,

and your shoulders will be crack down  with the weight of Kandy city

to scream your throat dry to just tease the world’s meaning.

Scream boys scream;

scream loud, scream now.

                 

Image – Joseph Ball

 

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