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Celebrating Another Birthday

by Shirani Rajapakse

A man who loves variety in life celebrates yet another birthday, but is everything alright? Shirani Rajapakse’s poem has the answers.

Layers of coloured cake
sandwiched with fruits; pineapple
stewed just right, kadju

in between the dark
chocolate like stars in a moonless night
sky. A myriad shades lining

the sides, icing drooling at the
candles in different hues
burning proudly at the top. You

blew them out one by one laughing
at the way they refused
to give up their light but rising

from the ashes like a phoenix.
You were embarrassed by their gesture
knowing that I knew you

took your love to town, peddling it
around on street corners, ‘variety is the spice
of life’ someone said.

You couldn’t be satisfied
with what you had, a multitude
was what you

needed to feel loved, wanted. Age
took over, highways ran across
your face crisscrossing, merging, mingling

in a rush to get to wherever. The
greys on your head peep
out from under the fading

bottle-black turning orange-brown
reminding you the days are numbered.
Pain wracks your

frail body, the diseases
have no cures, gifts from lovers that loved
you too much. There isn’t enough

money to pay for meds, coloured pills
like the colours of your lust. We sit
inside the old rented house and stare

up at the fairy lights strung on
the walls. Another year over, how many
more candles will you live to see?

Shirani Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan poet and author. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013. Her collection of short stories, Breaking News (VijithaYapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s work appears in Cyclamens & Swords, Channels, Linnet’s Wings, Spark, Berfrois, Counterpunch, Earthen Lamp Journal, Asian Cha, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking Poet, New Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project and anthologies, Short & Sweet – an anthology of Sri Lankan Hint Fiction (forthcoming 2014), Music Anthology (forthcoming2014), Poems for Freedom, Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence. She blogs rather infrequently at http://shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com.

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