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FTZ Girls


Factories wherever you go

Girls wherever you look

Machines and equipment

For buttons and collars


Vacancies galore but no vacations

Sustaining the nation’s economy on twelve hour shifts

Demand and supply causing headaches and vomit

The Board meets, the girls fall ill


The chairman lives abroad, the girls in cardboard shelters

Standing in queues for private buses as the Intercoolers pass


So the foreign exchange comes

From the UN and the UK and Japan

For the work through days and nights

In Katunayaka, Biyagama, Koggala


The Quota Target Shipment is achieved

By independent healthy voluntary labour

Or perhaps not


World famous brands produced by girls also branded

Girls – females – youngsters – sluts

Our girls


Translated by Buddhini Ramanayaka





Fire Churning from Within


Tea flourishes and thrives on the highlands, manured

by the dead bodies of great grandfathers, grandfathers

children and women buried beneath

The hands of those who poured sweat and blood on the hilly



No, they are wanted no more


Driven away from the roll call site

they are now out in the street

the helpless descendants of those who made the roads

float like the smoke exhaled by the factory chimney

on the roadside, the bazaar, the street junctions

roaming like the spirits of the dead


The infants who, once covered by soft fresh materials, leant


the beautiful breasts of their mothers are now flung, a prey to


to suffer on the roadside a plight worse than a dog’s

The faint moan of the meek was inaudible on streets where the

honourable live

their self respect alone going cheap,

not noticing women with nothing else to sell, selling their bodies,

staving off hunger


To demonstrate their chastity or by drowning themselves in the


or hanging, are there just few in number? The rest let another

touch their body

before they approach Death to take away their lives


The tender femininity whose fingers plucked tender leaf

falls charred in the street

Damn the society of the honourable

a fire is churning in the belly


Translated by S Sivasegaram






To My Son, His Inheritance


In my double bed

Which is now old

I recollect,

Not in tranquility,

The lattice work of my life.


My son now

Wears my sarongs

Without folding them in half

To shorten their full length

As he used to a few years ago.


Last week I saw him

Searching for my razor blades.

I heard him sing and whistle

And the tune seems so familiar …………


I picture my wife

As she first came to me

In a bright red cotton frock

With white polka dots.


I muse ………………

Remember my son


This lattice work

May be a lattice fence

For you some day.


In our old double bed

My wife and I

(Her hair all grey now)

Crouch like two old animals in a cage

Peering through the lattice work of our house.


While our son, his chest bare

And gleaming in the sun,

Reclines on an easy chair.


My wife takes

A long, sidelong glance at me.

I interpret

her message.


Yes, we will

Give this bed to him

And sleep