Human Rights, Human Security, IDPs and Refugees, Peace and Conflict, Poetry, Politics and Governance, Writers Under Siege

Three poems by Sivamohan Sumathy

[Editors note: These poems respond to Indran Amirthanayagam’s poems here, here and here. They are both part of the Writers Under Siege collection on Groundviews.]


i am not a writer

i am not a writer
nor am i under siege,
i do not frequent
the commons, nor the
poetic corner.


i, savage

why do i write
when i had promised myself
aching silence
after kethesh’s fall
and maheswary’s stunted end?
why talk suddenly
of the siege now,
when i have stood at
death’s door,
refused its dare
and now can finally
in a snow stirring fantasy
surrounding turkey’s trouble
with its torture
chambers, lulled by the
bewitching tones of
orhan’s magic?

why the artist
and the writer and colombo’s array
of poets, rushing to versify,
riding on
guilt ridden stirrings of the heart,
of us and them?
it’s a tale told
by an idiot, and yet,
signifying so much,
a tale told a countless
times, to still the night,
to strike terror into the
hearts of recalcitrant babes,
a tale about ‘us
and them’, jehan’s
white prayer, ‘lead
not into temptation
but guard us
from the murderous
tribe and a tragic end,
the tamil way.’ (1)

i, savage, long
out of siege, trapped in the
sanctuaries of the polite talk
of the court, of
murder, massacre and the masque
of death, break
open the seal on my
spiritless sleep,
my fast with wounding words, to
drown in the play of the puppets of
the shadow world, a chorus
of pleading demons
clutching at
my heart.

and yes,
douglas too,
in his arms bearing career, unlike
indran’s measured prose, (2)
is, was, and will
always be
one of

(1) the reference for this phrase is the following line by jehan perera: ‘ the challenge facing sri lankan society as a whole today is to avoid the tragic fate of tamil society.’ in himal southasia february 2009.

(2) this reference to douglas devananda and his arms bearing career is a response to the poem ‘By Other Means’ that indran sent in for publication initially, where he says,
ride an
armored carrier
up the A-9,
on Jaffna
High Street, ….’


easter, 2009

as i lie still
in an unquiet rest,
the bright brusque midday sun
descending into a dull glow,
the fluted tones of ‘it’s a
small world after all’, drifting through
the yellowed pane, breaks
into my reverie, to conclude on
a dying note, the cheery tune,

and i refuse
once more
to write of war torn limbs, bodies
scattered far apart, scarred foetuses, and
the white flag, burning in the
whiter sun, held aloft by a fleeing
refugee, in the desert sand;
i can write only
of my own otherness and
the survival of a song, drafting
words of fleeting fancy on the
canvas of my thought.
i refuse to sing any requiem
for me and my own.

Writers Under Siege

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