Uninvited, hither we came
And, without leave, departed hence.
What reason here for agony
Other than regret, as we shall meet again?

I crossed many rivers and mountains
Obstacles overcome with nary a care.
During my earthly journey,
Hope did not hurt anyone in my path.

I plead, my friends or foes
Do not hinder my ascent to the Heavens
Thro’ love or longing, other than regret.
Remember me, as I will remember you
Across that golden shore.

– Chris Defonseka


The sleek Porsche slides in silently
One shiny shoe hits the floor, then another
In he comes,well-fed,dressed immaculately,
Aura of affluence about him,
Wearing glasses which cools
The burning world before him,
He sails like a majestic ship
Among the sea of students
He is our hero, the magician
Who possess the wondrous formula of
“Spoken English”
Jumping out of a crowded bus
For the fear of missing the class
Clad in the timeless denim
And rarely washed “I am Sri Lanka” T shirt
Adjusting the disheveled hair, limping badly
And having cheated the stomach
With a fish bun and a glass of water
I sit on the edge of a jostling bench
Straining my ears to catch
Every joke, anecdote and some English
‘Today I am going to teach you a poem called
“The Rich and the Poor”

– R.C. Fernando


විඳි දුක් ගැහැට අඩු නැත මහමෙර උසට
හද ගිණි නිවන කඳුළැල් අඩු නැත නෙතට
පෑළ දොරින් පැන ගිය පෙම්බර නමට
තව ණය ගෙවයි පෙම් කල පුරුවේ පවට…
පහන් කන්ද සේ බබළන රූ සපුව
ගිණි කන්දට පෙම් බැන්දා රුවැත්තිය
හිම මෙන් දියවුනත් ආදර සිත් පොදිය
කඳුල සුසුම තනි රැුක්කා නුඹ අසළ…
අඩුවී නොමැත අව්වේ ඇති රැුස් මලා
මන්දිර නොමැත ගව්වෙන් ගව්වට සදාලා
කුසුම් කැකුළ අකලට ලොව තනිවීලා
විඳවයි තනිව හැමදාමත් වැලපීලා…
සිහින පොදි බැඳන් සිටියත් ලොවට හොරා
බිඳුණු කැඩපතින් නොබනල් රූ වරුණා
මේ බවයේ තනි වුවත් ආල නුරා
ආදර නමට නුඹ වුවා යසෝදරා…

– Eranga Dasanayake


Mothers’ hips are eroded
And her clavicles stick out.
She has had too many children
But she is still pregnant.
Her lungs are punctured
And Shred into pieces
Of ripe cloudless flesh
Only to be hidden beneath
Layers of charred rubber.

Mother breathes slowly
Slower than Chey-Stokes breathing
And she is still seething
Blood as if it were water.
Her arteries are clogged
By her own children’s bones,
Decayed by plastic
And steel cut leaves.

Mothers’ eyes are peppered
From shards of rubble
Of blown up temples
And shattered mosques.
She draws the crucifix upon her chest
And recites the Bhagavad Gita
When a storm is near.

Mother is calcifying each time
We turn into matchsticks
And heals with the azan
At the dark of dawn.
She moulds rivers of oil lamps
For her infants
lost in smoke.

Mother never cries
Even though we are gnawing away
At her nape, trying to tear ourselves
Into a dead piece of dermis.
Her neck comes loose
As does her voice
And she is beginning to whisper
Like a schizophrenic.

Mother can never live
Because she is being murdered
And grated by our own vicious palms.
As her tissues disintegrate
Before our blind eyes
We forget what it is like to be her child.

– Saduni Wanniarachchi
(A & K Literary Festival 2016 First Runner-Up)


It’s good that we’re insane
Since the world, it tallies with us
With it’s capricious volcanoes
And soothing air…
With its sagely bespectacled half
And the wild and the free…
It’s good that we’re insane
The world;
It worships insanity.

– Tharusha Deegala

Child Bride


Two young curious eyes peer out a red veil
To find next to her an overly ripened male
Her skin glows while his skin rots
There is music, there is food but love there is not

A newly forming woman only her face is shown
His ageing body takes the shape of his bones
He can’t run nor walk like her body can
She is a newborn with a dead man

The celebrations continue but she remains alone
The clock keeps ticking her fate unkown
The corpse not so lifeless cheers with other men
All around a century old while she not even ten

But then they all leave and silence fills the night
Taking her patterned hand firmly he leads her out of the light
His holy promise broken, her body cold as frost
A bedroom door closes, a childhood forever lost

– Saduni Wanniarachchi
(Winner of the Young Poets Network ‘Gothic’ challenge)

Broken Glass

red rose sad death poem

She lay surrounded by the silver moonlight
On the dark, soft grass, staring at space
Trying to count the infinite stars
Could life be more beautiful?
Her laugh was like the summer,
It melted every cold heart
She was full of courage and determination
Her beauty won many hearts
But a real girl isn’t perfect
And a perfect girl isn’t real.

A drop of blood turns the white snow red
A speck of dust turns pure water brown
She had troubles, sorrows and burdens too
For the world is not a wish granting factory
Now she lay on crisp, scratchy white sheets
Imprisoned by the dull walls of a hospital ward
There were dreams and plans for her future,
Her path to success had not yet been stepped on
Till the doctor told her gravely,
She had only one hour more

Tears did not flow from her bright eyes
For what good would that do?
Amidst sad goodbyes and sorrowful farewells
She drew in her last breath
Amidst wails and weepings of despair
She left to meet her king, eternal

Though she was just another patient,
One in a million deaths
Her death was mourned, her smile was longed for
A red rose, the epitome of love, trampled
The sun is missed only when it snows
She was loved only when she was let go
But shattered pieces and splinters still lie on the floor
A broken glass can never be repaired.

– Lavanya de Mel


(An English translation of Sagara Palansuriya’s poem, “අන්ධ ළමයා” (Andha Lamaya) which is originally written in Sinhala)

They say, flowers are gorgeous and are of lovely shades
The things they speak of as they can see
I don’t understand, mother, so here I am to learn
Please explain to me, I don’t know these

Except the sweet fragrance of flowers, what is meant by a ‘colour’?
Nevertheless, I can also realize that the petals are delicate
Is there something called a ‘light’?
Mother, why is it that I can’t make sense of these?

I feel the heat during the day more than at night
Is there more of a difference than what I feel?
I can’t figure it out, because, they say, I am still a young boy
If so, I ask grievously, will I understand as I grow up?

I can always feel the pleasing softness of the petals
Whenever I caress them with the tips of my fingers
Yet, if there is really a ‘colour’ in flowers as they say
I am much worried that I can’t touch it with my hands

I have never enjoyed the thing that they call ‘beauty’
Neither with my nose and ears nor with my tongue and limbs
I wonder why I can’t perceive it even when you try to describe
Oh mother, I am so sad that it is too hard to tolerate

Mother, why are you shedding tears?
I can feel them trickling down my arm
Don’t cry, mother, don’t cry, I was just joking
Shall I rush and come back after hitting the boys who lied to me?

– Sagara Palansuriya (1908-1961)

– Translated by: Indunil Madhusankha



– The Original –

අන්ධ ළමයා

මල් ලස්සනයි හොඳ හොඳ පාටයි කීවා
පෙනෙනවා දකිනවා කියනා ඒවා
මොනවද අම්මෙ මම අහගන්නට ආවා
තෝරා දෙන්න මම දන්නේ නෑ මේවා

මල්වල හොඳ සුවඳ මිස පාටක් කොහෙද
ඒවා මොළොක් බව තේරෙනවා මටද
එළියක් කියා මොකවත් හෙම තියෙනවද
මට තේරුම් ගන්ට අම්මේ බැරි මොකද

උණුසුම දැනේ දහවල මට රැයට වඩා
වෙනසක් හෙම තියෙනවද මෙහි මෙයට වඩා
මට නොදැනෙන්නෙ මා කණ කොලුවෙකිලු කුඩා
ලොකු වෙන කොට දැනේවිද මම අසමි හඬා

ඇඟිලි තුඩට මල් පෙති වල ඇති මෙළෙක
මට දැනෙනවා එය අල්ලන හැම විටෙක
පාට කියා ඇත්නම් ගතියක් මලෙක
අම්මේ අත නොගෑවෙන එක තමයි දුක

ලස්සන කියන දේ නැහැයට වත් කනට
මගේ දිවට හරි මගෙ අත පය වලට
නොදැනෙන්නේ මොකද තෝරා දෙන කලට
ඉවසා ගෙන ඉන්න අම්මේ බැරිය මට

ඇයි අම්මේ අඬන්නේ මේ කඳුලු සලා
මට දැනෙනවා යයි මගෙ අත් දිගට ගලා
නාඬන් අම්මෙ නාඬන් මම විහිළු කළා
එන්නද ගොසින් බොරු කී කොල්ලන්ට තලා

[සුදෝ සුදු]

සිත්තම- කුමුදු තාරක



(An English translation of Monica Ruwanpathirana’s poem, “ලෙච්චමීගේ සිතුවිල්ලක්” (Lechchamige Sithuvillak) which is originally written in Sinhala)

I reach the plantation gently stepping amidst the cold mist
I drift up along the trails in the hilltop plucking the leaves
I see the estate border while treading the wavy hills
I feel my limbs trembling as I get close to the bush near the edge

My eyelids shiver as the leaves stir in the wind
Tears overwhelm my eyes as the dews drop on the ground
I speak to the grasses grown around the bush and to the great earth
And ask about the son buried beneath the shrub on that day

Raise your head above from the bush, dear son
Come behind me as a man of twenty years, dear son
Come along the footpath, down the mountain, dear son
Seeing the door of the bungalow, do halt there, dear son

My son, shout out a complaint about that day, to be overheard
From the seven doors of the bungalow to the hundred rooms in the ‘line’
From the ridge to the estate lands, and from the mounts to the plains
From the small river to the giant sea, and even beyond that

– Monica Ruwanpathirana (1946-2004)

– Translated by: Indunil Madhusankha



– The Original –

ලෙච්චමීගේ සිතුවිල්ලක්

සීතල මීදුම අතරින් පියවර මනිමින් එනවා
වතු යායේ කඳු මුදුනේ දළු නෙළමින් ඇවිදිනවා
කඳු රවුමේ යන ගමනේ වතු මායිම හමුවෙනවා
මායිම ලඟ තේ පඳුරෙදි දෑත දෙපය නවතිනවා

දළු සුළඟට සැලෙනා විට මගෙ ඇසිපිය සෙලවෙනවා
පිනි බිඳු බිම වැටෙනා විට නෙත කඳුළැලි වැගිරෙනවා
වටා වැඩුණු තණ පඳුරට මහ පොළවට අමතනවා
එදා පඳුර යට සැඟවූ පුතු කොහිදැයි විමසනවා

පඳුර යටින් හිස ඔසවා හෙමිට නැගිටපන් පුතේ
විසිවසරක මිනිසකු වී මා පසුපස වරෙන් පුතේ
අඩි පාරෙන් වට රවුමෙන් කඳු මුදුනට වරෙන් පුතේ
බංගලාවෙ දොරටුව දැක එතනදි නැවතියන් පුතේ

බංගලාවේ දොරටු සතෙන් ලැයිමේ කාමර සියයට
කඳුයායෙන් වතු යායට හෙල් වැටියෙන් තැනි පොළවට
ගංගාවෙන් මහ මුහුදට ඉන් එපිටට අසෙන ලෙසට
කියන් පුතේ පැමිණිල්ලක් එදා නුඹට වූ වරදට


War torn prayer


My skies continue to grey
The darkness of night does not cease at day
The air gets bleaker, our breaths deterred
Though the sudden blazes of evil are not preferred
The pit in my stomach is infinitely deep
I’ve forgotten how to laugh but I remember how to weep
I’ve written letters to addresses to which I cannot post
I play no more though I whisper to the baby ghosts
Routines, a luxury that I’ve forgotten my own way
For yesterday’s losses are different from today’s
I see broken glass, I see fallen poles
I see rubble and blood, I see confined souls
My reaction to everything is to kneel down and pray
But the sun has hidden and the holy moon shies away
There used to be light in me, hot enough to burn
But now I am frozen and my light is yet to return

– Saduni Wanniarachchi