By Indran Amirthanayagam

The rat still runs
through the tunnels of my blood,
and elephants trumpet
in the war chest of my heart,
and kabaragoyas
the reptile kings
slither out of my eyes.

Beat the drum
beat the drum
facing the Bridge in the fog
facing the towering city
across the water walking
upon the water
beat the drum.

The fog will clear, the clouds
take back the rain
and the Sun burn again
on the rogue elephants back
charging up the footpath,

while over the sea
the herd trumpets
while over the sea
the herd trumpets.


By Indran Amirthanayagam

But in love our hearts are as red
earth and pouring rain:
beyond parting.

--Cempulappeyanirar (trans. A.K. Ramanujan)

the jugs neck broken, the peninsula spilled, vines dry,
red onions hard pressed to flower in gnatted pools
felled by bombs, cacti, field rats, and in the jungles
an underground city and throne, two leopard cubs
at the foot of the guerrilla king, Prabhakaran, his subjects
scattered beyond the whorls of the secret, pushed out by fighters
on every side, by the daily taste of bombs and silence,
by conscriptions at the door, have you sons and daughters

are they wandering away, out of the red earth
and pouring rain, wood-fired mutton, wedding and temple,
tongue buried in the secret city, thrown overboard
in the airports, a few words in English, or German,
picked up on the beaches, taught by smugglers,
you are, I am, seeking political amnesty.


By Indran Amirthanayagam

My friends, the tent is up,
I have cooled the sun,
here there is only light,
come in and eat,

said Salaam, the Iraqi owner
as he stood under the canopy
in his outdoor garden.
It had rained for two days

the pebbles under the tables
shone, the rocks shone
vines shone, the hands
of the Palestinian cook

shone rolling the dough
spreading the seed
to make zaatar bread;
I smiled, Hamdi, my friend,

how are things in Palestine,
and Salaam, how how
are your brothers and sisters
in Baghdad. The thick mud

of coffee, mint tea, how is
your computer, Hamdi, the desk-
topped journal on Palestinian
affairs, your Jewish wife,

I too have crossed the seas,
long may the burning sun
be robbed of meat and drink,
diffused by our canopy,

my coffee and cigarette
and The Pleasures of Exile
by George Lamming
"The Idea Of Order At Key West,"

 I read and read from everywhere
Hamdi, Rushdie and Cardenal,
the letters of Dylan Thomas,
The Star-Apple Kingdom,
I bring to this rest house
on Atlantic Avenue news
from the radio of my dreams
the evidence of my eyesseeing a customer from Israel
looking for familiar cooking,
a Ghanaian dreaming
fou fou and peanut soup,

I write it out in a verse
My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
pull down thy vanity, I say,
pull down

Thou art a visitor
under the canopy of Salaam,
recite Things I Didn't Know I loved,
then sing of Lizbie Brown

and feast at Nerudas Great Tablecloth
and The Citizen and ask again
for the justice of eating
freedom to visit the toolshops.

It's a long way to Tripperary,
I see Lawrence and Peter O'toole,
and Burton, briefcased, carrying
his poems, The Bible, and William

Shakespeare. I see the mad useless
killing and The Human Abstract,
and I see the darling of my life
skipping and jumping jumping and skipping

on the mountains top, by the sea wall,
on the walls of the city, and the Sun
burns her, the winds and rain lash her,
yet she skips, yet she jumps
and I see Hamdi stepping
into a convertible riding
on Atlantic Avenue through East
New York and East Jerusalem.

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