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what it's like to be sri lankan in 2012 for those of you who aren't

It’s being dead.
It’s still being alive.

It’s No Frills finally has Dilmah
It’s buying four packages to take home in your carry-on
because you live in the Bay Area now.
It’s the Scar and the new Goa.

It’s enormous fights on the internet on every page that purports to be about Sri Lanka from a multicultural perspective

It’s being on a raft that takes you from Jaffna to Malaysia to Christmas Island, Australia to immigration jail in Australia, then somehow you bust out
then to Fruitvale because someone on the raft Googlemapped it and it looked pretty

how we have always known
how to pilot
small boats in big water

It’s fake Buddhist temples constructed by the government in Jaffna
It’s going home and seeing bullet holes in your grandmother’s empty house
It’s lighting 23 candles in her window
one for everyone who’s died since you and everyone
have not been able to return.
It’s going home to Jaffna if you’re young, Tamil and male and not automatically being snatched by either army. Maybe. For a moment.
It’s white vans.

It’s creepy child molesting uncle,
drunkass uncle at the wedding singing baila with sexually inappropriate lyrics
It’s all your aunties wanting to change the subject

It’s an empty, broken heart hoping that the tears/the rivers/
the ocean/ all that wet
will fertilize the seeds
hidden/deep/ in darkness
still to be born

It’s wanting to talk about something else
It’s still being alive.


Leah LakshmiLeah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer Sri Lankan femme writer, performer, and teacher. The author of the poetry collections Consensual Genocide and Lambda Award–winning Love Cake, as well as co-editor of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities, her work has been widely anthologized. www.brownstargirl.org

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One Comment
  1. NG Unnikrishnan #

    nice poem

    December 25, 2013