Archive for the Buried 2 Category

In the forest of kings…

Posted in Buried 2 with tags , , , on September 13, 2010 by Mj Rains

….the rest of Buried 2 by Michael Ondaatje…

Buried 2


In the forest of kings
a Dilo Oil tree, a Pig Lily,
a Blue Dawn Bonnet flower

Parrot trees. Pigeon Berries.

Alstonia for the making of matchsticks,
twigs of Moonamal for the cleaning of teeth.
The Ola leaf on which to compose our stanzas of faith

Indigo for eyelids, aerograms / The mid-rib of a coconut palm / to knit a fence
Also Kalka, Churna, Dasamula, Tharalasara….

In the south most violence began over the ownership of trees, boundary lines–the fruit and where it fell
Several murders over one jak fruit tree


For years the President built nothing but clock-towers.

The main causes of death were “extra-judicial execution” and “exemplary killings.”

“A woman said a man pretending to be from the
military make her part with four jak trees in
her garden as a consideration for obtaining the
release of her son arrested some years earlier
during the period of terror.”

–Daily News 15.10.94

The address of torture was off the Galle Road in Koolupitiya

There were goon squads from all sides.

Our archeologists dug down to the disappeared
bodies of schoolchildren


The heat of explosions
sterilized all metal.

Ball bearings and nails
in the arms, in the head.
Shrapnel in the feet.

Ear channels
deformed by shockwaves.
Men without balance
surrounding the dead President
on Armour Street.

Those whose bodies
could be found.


“All those poets as famous as kings”

Hora gamanak yana ganiyak A woman who journeys to a tryst

kanakara nathuva having no jewels,

kaluwan kes kalamba darkness in her hair,

tharu piri ahasa the sky lovely with its stars

What we lost…

Posted in Buried 2 with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2010 by Mj Rains

If you’ve been following along this week, we’ve noticed my outpouring of the poem Buried 2 by Michael Ondaatje, one of my favorite authors.  The poem is from the book, Handwriting, published in 1999.  It is a historic tale of sorts, and perhaps we have to get our brains into another world, another country (Sri Lanka many centuries earlier…or today) to open ourselves the presence of the words.  Esoteric it may be for some.  I understand.  The section that I present today is my favorite…

Buried 2


What we lost.

The interior love poem
the deeper levels of the self
landscapes of daily life

dates when the abandonment
of certain principles occurred.

The rule of courtesy–how to enter
a temple or forest, how to touch
a master’s feet before lesson or performance.

The art of the drum. The art of eye-painting.
How to cut an arrow. Gestures between lovers.
The pattern of her teeth makes on his skin
drawn by a monk from memory.

The limits of betrayal. The five ways
a lover could mock an ex-lover.

Nine finger and eye gestures
to signal key emotions.

The small boats of solitude.

Lyrics that rose
from love
back into the air

naked with guile
and praise.

Our works and days.

We knew how monsoons
(south-west, north-east)
would govern behaviour

and when to discover
the knowledge of the dead

hidden in clouds,
in rivers, in unbroken rock.

All this we burned or traded for power and wealth
from the eight compass points of vengeance

from the two levels of envy

The poets wrote their stories on rock and leaf…

Posted in Buried 2 with tags , , , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Mj Rains

Buried 2


The poets wrote their stories on rock and leaf
to celebrate the work of the day,
the shadow pleasures of night.
Kanakara, they said,
Tharu piri…

They slept, famous, in palace courtyards
then hid within forests when they were hunted
for composing the arts of love and science
while there was war to celebrate.

They were revealed in their darknesses
–as if a torch were held above the night sea
exposing the bodies of fish–
and were killed and made more famous.

By the 8th century our rough harbours…

Posted in Buried 2 with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by Mj Rains

Buried 2


By the 8th century our rough harbours
had already drowned Persian ships

We drove cylinders into the earth
to discover previous horizons

In the dry zone we climbed great rocks
and rose out of the landscape

Where we saw forests
the king saw water gardens

an ordered river’s path circling
and falling,

he could almost see

the silver light of it
come rushing towards us.

— Michael Ondaatje, from the poem collection, Handwriting

We smuggled the tooth of the Buddha…

Posted in Buried 2 with tags , , , , , , on September 6, 2010 by Mj Rains

Buried 2


We smuggled the tooth of the Buddha
from temple to temple for five hundred years,
1300 – 1800.

Once we buried our libraries
under the great medicinal trees
which the invaders burned
–when we lost the books,
the poems of science, invocations.

The tooth picked from the hot loam
and hidden in our hair and buried again
within the rapids of a river.

When they left we swam down to it
and carried it away in our hair.

Poem: by Michael Ondaadje
Image: via

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