The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Dilantha Gunawardana



The giraffe says I’m too tall
And evolution – like man – doesn’t like the tall poppy
And yet the bamboo bows to the brown ants
Letting these busy bodies know
How humble they really are. While the elephant
Wags his trunk and pick pockets some lunch
From the leafy bushes, trumpeting
Like an aboriginal man high on some pituri,
Blowing a didgeridoo. And all the while
The platypus looks in the mirror
And gives a pep-talk on how the ugly duckling
Transforms to a beautiful swan. An ostrich
Runs with a train, falling over like a ball of fluff,
Rolling like hay balls in a ghost town.

The fruticose lichens grow into coral like shrubs
While the coralloid Cycas roots rise up for a wisp
Of air, as the great barrier reef goes
Through yet another episodic bleaching cycle.
And in this imperfect equilibrium you find
A ghost owl screeching loudly, harbingers
Of the inevitable – a warming world.

And out there on an Arctic iceberg, a polar
Bear looks up at the glare, while little penguins
Become tanned on their snowy skin.
While in a beach in Sydney, a little melanoma
Will soon metastasize to the breast canals
And the lymph nodes. Still the common man
Looks at the mad men of science, the egg heads
Shouting inconvenient truths and puts the
Air-conditioner on. Far away, in an oil-polluted
Creek in India, a little boy floats a paper boat
While a stray puppy sleeps next
To a mammoth garbage dump. Animal whisperers
And Dr Doolittles gather around a round table
In Nairobi, listening to neglected voices,
Of those who only have an embattled identity
In a red list.

All the while, the crimson tide rises
On makeshift graveyards, where vultures
Hover like drones and hyenas laugh
Like giggling teenage girls. And all we can do
Is sit in front of a TV, and watch the National Geographic Channel
Wishing upon lustrous starfish on a sooty sky.
And I ponder how simply awful it must be
For a species to be like the three ignorant monkeys
“See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”.



Dilantha Gunawardana



We are a Goldilocks planet
In the habitable zone. A word made up of
Gold and Locks, like a little girl who couldn’t
Handle cold or hot, and made the mesophilic
Her only choice.

And planet earth, will keep on revolving around her axis
Until we run out of our locks, the growth
And the undergrowth, we call flora.
The keeper of vitality of our planet
And we like fools, deforest the floral locks
Making our golden atmosphere
Loose her gold – polluted by Nitrogen and Sulphur
Dioxides and climate change gases

And one day, we will hear about a story
How a Goldilocks planet became too hot
For a little girl, a planet that will become a boiling
Pot of porridge, no little girl or even mother earth
Can taste. Goldilocks was once a world
With cyanobacteria, little blue-greens, that made an atmosphere
Of oxygen. What burns lungs, fuels and flames
To the point of brink.

Only then, will we remember
How easy it is to plant a sapling, a little form of life
That can carry so many others on her leafy garments.

Just like a frocked Goldilocks
Carries 7 billion on hers.




DR. DILANTHA GUNAWARDANA is a molecular biologist who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. His poems have been accepted/published in Kitaab, Eastlit and Ravens Perch. He mixes science with poetry for a living, when what matters is the expression of both words and DNA into something serendipitous. Although an Australian citizen, Dilantha is domiciled in Sri Lanka, his country of birth.



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