by Dilantha Gunawardana
Someone complimented me, saying
That I have beautiful hair; which either falls
From my ankles, or rises above my forehead.
Depends on which way you hold me….
I collect dead cockroaches and gecko droppings,
Like a spiky comb catches trespassing lice,
While dust, seemingly like dandruff, lifts
From a body and is assembled in
To a little collection. I’m no genius though!
I keep the little sorrows, or my melancholic blues,
Of seeing my hair fall, strand by strand, deep inside,
And still the floors, are like autumn earth,
Filled with fallen leaves. I pray piously,
That my days will not be numbered,
As I look at a partially-dead cockroach,
Frantically struggling to get back up
And I like a merciless guillotine,
Coming down on it, crushing the gauzy wings.
Sometimes, I see my tall dark master,
Dance with me, his hands curled like
A skipping rope around my waist, and I drifting
In and out, like a broomstick flame,
Braided locks, radiating around my ankles,
Those metatarsals lifting, and grounding;
My little toes at the very end, sliding
On a surface letting my feet – and heart –
Be led, knowing that a man who
Can take a woman places, on the dance floor,
Can take her anywhere, la la land, Emerald city,
Xanadu, orgasmic utopia, or the moon and back.
I let him take me away slowly, his hands
Going deeper down my slender hips, his grip
Gentle enough to yield, like a kite string from
A kite runner, and not as adamantine, as God’s hold,
Letting an electric feeling enrapture me,
Like how a kiss sends a current down the spine,
To the quiet whereabouts below a navel.
You can say, I’m a perennial woman
On a dance floor, my meadows of goose bumps,
Giving away secrets I try valiantly to hide,
Like a brilliant moon behind cumulus clouds.
How I let myself be glided on a surface,
My little toes like the front line of a war party,
My fingers, convulsing with feeling,
Letting a man with unassailable wrists,
Sweep me off, my featherweight feet.
Paper Boat Dreams
Tumbling down in a rush, in panic,
broken clouds, as white and loopy,
as Santa’s cotton wool beard, while in Africa,
conga drums are being played by zesty palms,
while dancers, do their magic around an open fire,
Calling upon the rain gods, to intervene.
The pitter-patter, the growl from the heavens,
the neon flashes, the evergreens turning greener,
while, beads of raindrops, on jade surfaces,
are funneled down a tubular leaf, as a child
with Gene Kelly shoes on, looks at a kaleidoscopic rainbow,
with a sense of glee, like a prophetic Noah,
who looked at seven bands of parallel running color,
on the heavens, as a harbinger, a beautiful sign,
that the floods were now finally over.
How that man, Noah, cut the boughs of Cedar trees
In modern day Lebanon, to build a sturdy boat,
while a little child of 7, folds an A4 paper, to build the softest hull.
How beautiful, that a miniature boat,
inside a child’s palms, made of commonplace paper,
can carry something more exquisite, than a timber body,
holding a cargo of paired animals.
How a little ragamuffin, carries on his paper ark,
a consignment, many folds richer,
than the merchandise on board
Noah’s cedar hull.
Wooly Mammoth Tusks
How tons of ivory, are found,
deep beneath Siberia and Alaska,
as the worst kept secret of the Arctic tundra.
A reminder that being big was a casualty
10000 years ago, and is now.
While the modern day elephant
plods on the savannah, knowing that
their distant cousins, paid the ultimate price
For being too conspicuous, for
being too gargantuan.
How African elephants have more
tusks than the Asian counterpart,
the former called by the genus name Loxodonta,
Which means slanted tooth, of which,
there are two extant species;
africana, the bush elephant, and cyclotis, the forest elephant.
While the Asian elephant, walks
in troupes, less threatened by modern-day poaching,
Although they too fall easy prey
to man’s lust of ivory.
How paleo-indians brutalized mastodons
In the Americas, while hunters in Siberia,
killed wooly mammoths, to the point of extinction.
How ivory, in the contemporary,
is a prized item at auctions, and precious memorabilia
for collectors. While a businessman in Shanghai,
impatiently awaits, for the delivery
of two wooly mammoth tusks,
to embellish his study.
How the behemoth phenomenon
scientists call climate change, has bred
a new form of ivory trade;
how wooly mammoth tusks are found,
below a melting permafrost, like,
a milk tooth beneath a pillow,
waiting for the riches,
of a magnanimous tooth fairy.
DILANTHA GUNAWARDANA is a molecular biologist by training, yet identifies himself, as a wordsmith, papadum thief, “Best Laksa” seeker, poet of accident and fluke, hoop-addict, a late bloomer on all fronts, ex-quiz-druggy and humor-artist, who is still learning the craft of poetry. Dilantha lives in a chimerical universe of science and poems. His poems have been accepted for publication /published in Kingdoms in the Wild, Heart Wood Literary Magazine, Canary Literary Magazine, Boston Accent Lit, Forage, Kitaab, Creatrix, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry, Zingara Poetry Review, The Wagon and Ravens Perch, among others. Dilantha has two collections of poetry, Kite Dreams (2016) and Driftwood (2017), published by Sarasavi Publishers, and is working on his third poetry collection and a book of haiku poems. Dilantha was awarded the prize for “The emerging writer of the year – 2016” in the Godage National Literary Awards, Sri Lanka, while being shortlisted for the poetry prize, in the same awards ceremony.