The Man with the Lost Library Book

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Peradeniya, by the Second Stone Pillar in front of the Library.


Underneath the stone ceiling
And couched by the pillars
Of the library, a seller
Shows his display of books.
Some fingering spines, some
Showing half interest, two securities sit,
Bookwormish looks. I say,

“Look — look over there and
There” and a student I don’t like
Walks by a student I know.
Underneath the Senate stone hedge,
In space permitted, they discourse
Of being free; do not discourse of sex.


It feels so long ago, but
It feels so forever. Perhaps
Mine was the only batch that wouldn’t say
“East or West — the best we are”
(They were confused as much and were too vain to use a map).

Those that were left till the end
Didn’t hug when they left.
They just left — and where they sat
A set of different asses now sit
Hitting on each other that on each other hit.

Long ago, and a friend was pregnant
With the final thesis in her arms.
Without an allowance, or extension,
As serenely she walked, a god on a tree shed down charms.
It was a lonely Thursday in the month of March.

“Give your poems to the batch reps”
Says the noticeboard sticker; gives names.
I have no batch rep to give my verse to.
Perhaps, I should contact the best looking name
If the face I have in mind with that name tag came.


“Look — look over there and
There” and a student I despise
Walks by a student I know.
Two English Department students sit
Arched brows shielding eyes:
Skim Victorian Romance; shooing off flies.

A celebration in the background,
The guy I hate is now older:
Some guys howl a happy birthday
And everyone looks. The readers digest
What passes behind their backbones
Though they take not their eyes from their widespread books.

Comes a boom from afar, a volley,
Repetitive waved indicating
A murmur which, by the second, arise
And arising from that distance
We cannot discern them, yet. But they’d
Turn out later to be Unionist litanies.


Now, the protestants have come
And they pile before the Senate,
They mete out their energy
To the vastness of space.

Bookseller goofs his neck,
Dip.Ed aunties stop by,
Their books held teacher-like.
Occupying the Senate, either ways.

The two readers break up,
Walk out the sides — far on the other end
I see them descend paved steps.
Shrill voices sound tired, the megaphone comes hired:
The speaker moves his finger like Johnny Depp.

“Comrades…” he speaks, and my
Earlids fall down shut.
Ou-boom, ou-boom-ou boom, ou boom:
I am Miss Questead. I am the Marabar Cave.
One can either be a cynic, or aspire to be brave.



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