Poetry Foundation

There’s a poem called
“Losing it” by Roxanne Gay (Gay of course used in a Harassment Context)
On Poetry foundation today
And I, like an idiot, with a Twinkie wish,
– Searching for my morning snack –
Looked only to find a yawning interview there.

I don’t shy away from battles
The Philistines have big feet and tall shoulders
And like to look in the concave mirror
At their size. They call themselves
A foundation, a little place of granite and cement,
Strong it seems, yet David, the sling-boy,
Could make their sanctuary look like a straw house
Even worse, a house of cards, that
Crumbles to the weight of a feather.

And in this foundation, there are squatters
And motel rooms, there are also royalty
On thrones, the houses of orange and dauphin,
And rarely the traditional poet
Who can move Everest with the grace
On the tip of his fingertips. And the squatters
Are there by lady luck, a slog of words,
A punt of chance, clemency of a hope action.
The motel rooms on the other
Hand, are for those who come and go,
The seasonal or the invited
Where a little room with a view
Is furnished to make little poems
Of San Fransisco, where the American poem
Is headed. And they will look
At American traditions, yet forget to celebrate
Kwanza, which denotes first fruits of the harvest,
Of poets gone by. Washed off from
The beaches that were once a haven
For writers, and yet their memory lives large
Like salted caramels on a confectionary window.
And then, there are the houses of orange and dauphin
The queer poet, the transgender,
Or the one taking hormones to ferry
Across, and they too write how
They are the apples of the eye, who are
Discriminated day-in day-out, when
They hold all flushes in a poker hand.

And the traditional poem is in the hand of imposters
And “Losing It” are the slippery words
On the tip of the tongue
Of any bard in the making. The foundation
That makes free verse sound like
An attack of Cholera, when all the ion channels
Inside open up to let the words through.
And through the squatters, the motel faithful
And the royalty, you will see
The ugly face of a colossal bulldozer
Monopolizing the American poem.

And still, the real poet, those by birth and vocation
Can gauge the difference between
Pods of garlic and elephant garlic.
The larger one has no aroma or essence
Just a gargantuan body, Allium ampeloprasum
Envying David, at how masterful
His sling work is.

And through ‘Invictus’ and ‘If’
We will live larger than our sizes, in spite of our losses,
And the foundation will continue to steam roll an art
That transcends any other. The words
“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting you”
Ring in my years. I trust the embroidary of my ink,
The very ink that ushered in my Kwanza
The first fruits of my labor, and I will
Not let a discriminatory monopoly
Push me down to the gutter.

And this battle is just at its infancy
The Foundation may have all the muscle,
But the little lad has all the surprise.
David and Goliath is always
A mouth-watering treat. We will always
Be strangers by choice, at least we
Can combust on an open forum,
And I promise you “there will be no white flags”.
All I have are my roots holding aloft my fruits
Aren’t I Kunta Kinte of all modernity?


Author: meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, American Journal of Poetry, Kitaab, Eastlit and Ravens Perch. He mixes science with poetry for a living, when what matters is the expression of both DNA and words into something serendipitous. Although an Australian citizen, Dilantha is domiciled in Sri Lanka, his country of birth.

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