I. by Sivaramani

BOMB 40 Summer 1992
040 Summer 1992

In the evenings
all burdens
weigh heavy

heat and light
graze side by side
on the lifeless day

like writings
on a slate
that rub off,
leave no trace

I count my breaths
not merely
to pass time

fall dead
by the lamp

What should I
dwell on?
Or the stars
with no meaning
like the light
that emits
from a corpse’s eye

is not visible
in this darkness,
to discern untruths
is not an easy task,

but, my young sister
preparing for exams
I cannot ask
what motivates you,
why you peer in this darkness?

All are in a hurry
I am left
with only

calm, silent trees
cast torn shadows.

When anguish
and chaos
rule the streets
with barking dogs
and locked doors
checked and re-checked
in readiness for night, I cannot think
of the Sun
rising tomorrow.

The night
is important to me,
like yesterday
another friend
may be lost
in this dark

The night
it is valuable
to me.

Translated from the Tamil by Indran Amirthanayagam, R. Charan, and P. Manikkalingam.

Sivaramani, a young woman poet from the Jaffna peninsula, committed suicide in 1991.

Two Poems by Indran Amirthanayagam
Writing In the Air by R. Charan

There are too few words
and in them
an immense silence is frozen.

Indran Amirthanayagam and Adam Zameenzad
Amirthanayagam 01 Body

“Writing a novel requires a lot of digging out, chucking away, selecting, molding, shaping, and reshaping of all the above; and then hoping for the best.”

Sri Lankan Poetry by Indran Amirthanayagam

What follows is a small selection of modern poetry from Sri Lanka—a selection designed for some imaginary capsule, to be packed in with the American Beats, the librarian Larkin, Neruda the Captain, Paz the writer of silences, Popa the puppeteer, and Plath and Bishop and Walcott and, of course, many others.

Originally published in

BOMB 40, Summer 1992

Featuring interviews with Reno, Derek Walcott, Neal Jimenez & Eric Stoltz, George Condo, Louis Kahn, Camille Billops, Darius James, Michael Jenkins, and Joe Mantello.

Read the issue
040 Summer 1992