Saturday, March 28, 2009


The war in Sri Lanka has lasted more than 25 years. I wrote this poem in 2006, after visiting New York, another beloved residence on earth.


I did not visit the Black Pussycat,
or the Fat Flounder, even Macy’s
on 34th Street. I left the Back Fence
for another return. I must devote
myself to compressing the city
into a compact, multi-purpose
pill to pop on those occasions
far away on Ceylon’s East Coast

where the blue-green jeweled
sea—turned nut brown, in the wake
of the tsunami--witnesses again
patrol boats and small arms fire,
lobbed grenades and thatch explosions,
rapes of social workers and hundreds
upon hundreds upon thousands
in flight from their villages.

War has returned to the hamlets,
coves and palm-fronded taverns,
and in New York those towers
of Ilium vanished, my two islands
united in the global accounting
of war and war’s alarms,
everybody bruised, jaded and afraid
waiting for the Messiah or the flames.

Indran Amirthanayagam c)2009