Midnight man in Bambalapitiya: part 4

Was that you inside your face?
You said you had a name,
but it wasn’t Midnight.
 
Carrying a house on the back you said
you’re going to build a shack on promised land – it was free,
and it’ll have a wife and windows facing the sunset,
coloured walls, a bed and other sensible things.
 
You’ve remembered you have a son, who also has a little son—
I guess breeding makes sense
because when there are no more empty spaces left
you never have to look at yourself again.
 
I wanted to ask why, but it’s a wolfish world
and asking why is rude and unwarranted.
So I said I’ll come by
and visit you sometime.
 
I went left and you went right.
The city moaned in smoke, heat and grime
and under my feet the Earth started shaking 
because somewhere, somehow, a saint had died.

Image: 1917 Russian mask by unknown


We’re sad because

I think we’re sad because we’ve built ourselves prisons.

Tall, beautiful cathedrals with a vision

into what our lives should be

forever and ever, dazzling in the horizon.

 

They’re easy, they’re the same

until never becomes a day

leaning on our necks with the deadweight of knowing

that the mountains we raised from the depths are falling.

 

We’re sad because it’s evident

that there’s nothing in the space-time continuum

that will just, please, stay put—

pristinely, never-endingly put.

 

But, we try.

 

By building perfectly carved out shells

around our beating selves,

in miniature monumets of places, things and faces

that have long lived and left their moment.

                                               

1918, Dancing with Helen Moller; Helen Moller, Kurtis Durnham. John Lane company London, University of California Libraries

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