The Way It Is

We can’t sing certain songs
that speak of our glorious past or our
identity. We are shamed. Tunes
hummed softly to walls that sometimes listen but
don’t record words barely coherent they
brush cheeks against hard surfaces
and sigh to winds passing outside. We
can’t be proud of our
history, the long winding road
of deeds that made us who we
are, those many, many years of development,
innovation, education,
love for humanity and the land we
live in, the great strides we
took into the future that brought us
here where we are, right now. We
are ridiculed, made to feel stupid, those years
slowly erased from memory one word at a time,
dissected, analyzed and thrown away as
not being worth a cent. Our
history. My history that sleeps crammed tight
inside cupboards, imprisoned behind glass
walls in a white man’s home, forgotten, yearning to
return but held back by words agreed with
forced signatures while mothers watched
their infants balanced on swords. We
aren’t allowed to practice our beliefs, our
religion of non-violence. We
are looked down as being inferior practicing an
ancient wisdom they claim has no place
in this new world order rolling in. Everything is being
re-written to suit the white man
somewhere. We
are forced to accept the white man’s ways
and beliefs, his lifestyle, his food filled with things
that harm our bodies. We
are persuaded to sell our values, our businesses,
infrastructure, money making properties that are
made to look as disasters, failures in our
incapable hands, handed over to foreigners with
no idea of their true worth, to appease
buffoons in political power. We watch helpless as our
lands, those many tufts of earth that make up
this place we call home, nurtured with the blood of
warriors that died to save it for a future,
are torn up, lines drawn for
ownership claimed from foreign shores.
Slowly, slowly we
change, turn once again to become slaves to
whiteness this time not controlled with
guns held against us
but through agreements signed in cold climes
behind hushed doors. We
are compelled to obey the rules
follow the oil man’s religion. Shroud our
women in darkness. Our
words are twisted like vines, tied up,
strangled. Simple meanings deconstructed, what we
meant is portrayed as something negative, ugly,
best left unsaid thrown into the gutter. We
become nothing. Beaten up our
backs curved in surrender aged beyond our
years. Coerced
into submission to the white master
oil master coming in different clothes, speaking
through different tongues sliced in two, sugar
coated to please
controlling through regional bullies,
political prophets and
religious puppets, money exercising utmost
authority while debauchery reigns,
reigns, reigns and thugs party with not a care in
the world and the police cheer and the public
cry foul and no one listens for ears
hide inside potholes and words roll in the dirt
desperately waiting for the rains.

© 2016 Shirani Rajapakse

Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts

Earth Song is featured in LIJLA Vol 4 No1 February 2016. Go here or read it below.

 

Earth Song

 

I am the weeping earth cringing

in pain when you dig me up, pulling out

 

limbs, entrails leaving me to hemorrhage.

Shocked, in excruciating pain, no one hears my

 

silent cries. Children orphaned, lives torn apart,

fracking my veins drinking me dry. Parched

 

I crumble into pieces. I am the silent sky watching

anger whizz by to explode in places you don’t like.

 

Not yours to care while I listen

to the cries of the weak

 

trying to make sense of it all

amidst terror raining down from

 

above. I am the roaring waves, the deep

darkness under heaving waters, flowing rivers

 

gurgling streams and silent lakes that stand still as

mirrors for clouds to comb their hairs. You

 

damn me everywhere but I lift my

head straining to rise, course through the

 

way I want and not how you think

I should. I am the raging fire that burns, taking

 

the trees with me chasing the birds away,

the deer, rabbits and wild beasts

 

that hide within my voluminous cloaks. Trees, how

I love to sway to birds tunes, the beat of squirrels feet,

 

weave my magic through the land, burrowing in deep,

standing up tall reaching high to the skies waving

 

my many arms in the breeze holding onto life. I am

woman I am life I am earth and I bleed.

 

Catastrophe and Environment

Moving Worlds Volume 14 Number 2 Catastrophe and Environment will be launched during the two-day public conference Reframing Disaster that will be held from 28-29 November 2014 at Leeds.

Reframing Disaster is being held to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bhobal Gas Disaster in India, the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide and the 10th anniversary of the South Asian Tsunami.

The conference will “think through how these and other global disasters have been conceptualised and represented in art, literature, film and the media.”

For more details about the book including a table of contents and purchase information go here.

Turn to page 44 for my poem “Conversations in the Dark.

Catastrophe and Environment

Cities+Language

The theme of this issue of Cities + is language. The issue “explores how Cities speak through bodies, books, buildings, cracked images, children’s drawings, grafitti, ground diagram sillouettes, maps, mechanical sounds, musical notes, pictures, poems, scents, sidewalks. Consider this issue as a multi-sensory dictionary, whose entries go far beyond words, and go back to them – or simply start with them.”

Check out “Colombo” on page 50.

 

 

Cities+Language