Poem in Forage Poetry Journal

Binomial Nomenclature by Dilantha Gunawardana

Bat Flying 2

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An HIV Positive Man

AIDS

I’m moving like a blinking eye lid
Bewildered at guzzle power

I’m dancing in my ballet shoes
Pirouette kidnaps me.

I’m too drunk to know whether I’m walking or flying
I’ve lost consciousness of my feet.

Drawn like a carriage are my limbs
I’m engulfed by a woman that stands naked

In front of me and summons my pupils.
I pounce like a grass hopper

Sting like a bee until she is a butterfly
Maddened with my ephemeral touch.

She is agape like a nepenthes.
As I slowly let her trap me inside

Her pitcher and crumble me
Out of drenched desire.

I’m so wet, I feel like a Nimbus cloud
About to break open in a monsoonal shower

I dance, she sings, we make merry,
I’m about to be abridged like a runaway kite.

I elope to the wind like a madman
Bored of his insanity. Icarus is all of me.

The face of the sun was beautiful
And the Aegean was an anti-climax.

I drown to a trench, like an anchor.
I hastily look at her, the stranger with no name.

My body is my only alibi in the absence
Of heart works. Sin was all over me

Like a bout of leprosy. Still I did not feel
Any guilt. Perhaps the Scotch whiskey

Made me fickle. I was a man for a few minutes
The most and still it was like morphine

To my body. I walked away still drunk
My body drooping like melted skin.

The past and the future sandwiching me
In a moment I would regret. Guilt

Would follow the next morning when
I was all sober. It was all a blank page

With an abstract painting. Now I gaze
At that painting everyday trying to

Make some sense out of it. I’m just a drip painting
Dripping life through an hourglass,

Soldiering on in anti-retrovirals.
A deciduous tree in a thicket

Of evergreens. Every leaf is precious
As every weak smile. Abscission is slow

And still it takes a little out of you
To see a leaf fall.

The clock ticks and I look out of the window.
Winter is coming soon.

When I will be as colorless
As a ghostly snowman

With no carrot stick.

The Two Cheeks of Catholicism

rosary01

Hands together praying
In assemblies of holy warriors,
Crusaders no longer battling Saladin
Only the roly-poly waves
Of atheism, as the leverage of religion
Becomes fickle, embattled to a slow strain
Of gradual extinction, with traces
Of a Dodo-like madness.

And here in this corner of Sri Lanka
There is the emergence of the charismatic movement
A fraternity of abled-bodies men and women
Lifting their hearts and palms
Praying in song and rhyme. While
A little uptown, you find a regular church
Where the only time you raise your palms
Is to recite the Our Father in solemnity
And holiness.

So how can one explain the momentum in faith
To stray from time-tested age-old rituals.
Here, young people, are more prone
To ways of the warm-blooded. Sometimes
You find catholic women devirginizing
On the periphery, preserving a vestigial membrane
For the devout custom of gift-unwrapping
On the marriage bed.

And marriage in itself has become a vestige.
We hear alarming rates of divorce;
How the catholic men have mistresses
Half their age. Love has become a carousal
And faith vaudeville. When under a tent
People gather in their best attire, to watch
A stunt of turning wine to a concoction of serum and cells.
Still it’s not all David Copperfield though.
You hear sermons, lengthy, sometimes oratory,
Giving the church goer some listening time,
While some zone out to blank pages,
Perhaps catching the message right at the end.

And still,
You find the pious old lady in a mantilla, who sings
Every hymn in soprano and every prayer
Like a parrot high on sugar. She will be
The leader who others follow. You realize
That she too is the caretaker of the little shop
In church that sells candles – not the scented type –
And prayer books, for those who are willing
To unite their palms and let their worries
Be catapulted into God’s hands.

And in these times of scandal
Some look at every priest with a warped eye.
You only see a saintly face donning a robe
And a crucifix around the neck
And still he will be branded like cattle
With a little “P” stamp. It’s a case of guilty
Until proven innocent. The sad plight
Of a church, a fishermen’s league,
That grew to conquer billions of lost lambs
Needing a shepherd.

And faith in spite of all, is still vibrant here.
You hear the alleluias and the hosannas in the fervor of lovers
Inside bedrooms. Sometimes, matters of the soul
Are louder than matters of the flesh.
And the church nowadays is like a fishing net that you throw
To the ocean to bring home the catch.
And Jesus did just that and so too
Are the clergy, drawing a larger, more inclusive radius
Of acceptance. You still find candles and incense sticks
On little alters, flickering like St Elmo’s fires
On mast tops of hope-bearers.

And church will always be yours and mine.
And there’s something about
A little congregation engraved in traditions
Welcoming people with an open heart. It is the house you enter
On Sundays to inject a little bit of fizz
Into your spirit, some serenity to your soul,
And a little voice inside a sound-proof room
That gives you two items – a compass
And a torch – to help you in your journeys far and near.

And when you’re exorcised of your anxieties
You are back to your winning self.
And all it takes is kneeling in front
Of a little timber enclosure and telling your sins
One by one, until you’re a formatted disk
A fallowed field, a flushed toilet bowl,
A man armed with Holy Ghost and running on Jesus power
Holding on to a brake pedal
That you hope to god will stop you
From crashing onto the incoming traffic
As an accident of flesh.

And if you do, guilt will ensue.
A lot like whiplash, only it’s on the inside.

Cats and Us

cat

Our front yard, which is a deserted plot
During the daylight hours
Has now transformed to a little
Comfort room for the neighborhood cats.

Cats of so many diverse fur coats
Brown and white, snowy all over,
Dark as night and even the patchwork
Can all be seen scanning for the ideal
Spot to lay a memento, an alibi
Of a little dehydrated poop.

And they say cats will go to any house
That is hospitable. Our front yard
Has humus rich earth and a little lawn
Which acts as a burial place
For cat excreta.

Its amazing how opportune cats are
Whether in personal comfort acts
Or preying on a little nestling alone inside a twig enclosure.
And our front yard which used
To be an aviary, is now a ruthless killing field.

And we too search for comfort care
In all the empty places. We go to empty churches
To rekindle our spirits, we lay flowers
By tombstones to remember loved ones
Gone by, we like our own solitude inside a little
Attic, which plays second fiddle
As a writing pad.

And we enter a garden filled with cat poop
Every evening after work,
Searching for a lone rose or a the promise
Of an orchid bud. And cat poop has become our duty
Towards the garden, as we shovel them out
To fill a plastic garbage bag.

Cats are what made us appreciate
What we took for granted – a garden that gives
Us so much joy. And that garden is the first sight
In the evening as we enter our home
And the last sight in the morning as we
Leave through the open gate.

Now every day, we search for cat poo in the evening
And in doing so, we inevitably water the garden and gaze
At the peduncles filled with flowers.
It seems, we have embraced the little joys
Of living with nature.

When I see a cat in the front yard
I look at it like an angel sent from God,
To remind us of the little things we neglect in our rat race,
To succeed and make a living.
It seems the cats have given us
A lot more than poop. The garden has become our
Comfort room to excrete our anxieties
And fears and to live larger than our
Own capitulations.

Now I look forward to gathering cat poop
Even sighting a lurking cat
Knowing it is only a prelude to a bigger pastime.
It’s amazing, how absolutely little it takes
To germinate seeds of happiness
On a fallow heart.

Anxiety

Male Sadness Homeless Person Bullied Alone Hiding
Male Sadness Homeless Person Bullied Alone Hiding

 

You’re just PLAIN MAD…..
You should be hanging the genetically modified
Sign around your neck – after all something
Spurred you on to become a scary cat

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You’re just a scarecrow on sugar
Maddened by the very environment
That raised you – padlocks on the gate
Mosquito-proof netting on windows
And a heart that beats like a gong.

########


No wonder you’re anticipating more
Than what nature throws at you.
Carrying an umbrella in August
Is plain nutty and wearing a jumper
In Galle is plain stupid.

########

Still nothing beats
The condom you wear while making love

As you replay a nagging thought over and over
“Will the trusted condom break?”

And your wife’s on the pill.

Maternal

0327

I look at my mother
Bringing in item after item to the dinner table.
A spread as rich as a King’s banquet.
And I look at each one of us
About to grab hold of a drumstick
Or a fried prawn.

And I wonder how she feels;
She gives and gives, when giving is fighting
On its toes embattled with extinction.
And giving when performed in the absence
Of ritual or rite, is where you find the sacrament
Of charity emboldened by motherhood.

I think of the maternal motif
That leaks out the charity syndrome
And all I can feel is my mandible
Growing a snout, and my legs converging together
As my body curves into the shape
Of a question mark. In my thoughts I’m turning to a seahorse.
Still, a seahorse only gestates and rarely
Rears the young.

And I realize I’m stuck in
My own purgatory of thought.
Tormented by my inability to feel
What my mother goes through day-in-day-out.
And I finally give in, knowing
I will only be a man who can carry
A troupe of tadpoles in two out-of-body sacs.

And I look at my mother
Knowing she is everything I’m not.
A giver like no other – From uterine blood
To milking breasts and now, a banquet
Of chicken and prawns.

And I’m that wretched life form
That only knows how to glutton out in sin
On my mother’s obese feasts.