Posted in poem, poems, poetry, Uncategorized

Betel Leaves and Areca Nuts


You get the peppery betel leaves
And the areca nuts, a seemingly innocuous practice
Embellished with slaked lime, and the mouth
Instantly turns to crimson tides
Of churning color and in that bloody red paste
And a seemingly strange practice of chewing a biological brew
Lies a tradition of tea pluckers and rubber tappers
Of a folk-mainstay of slicing an areca nut
With a giraya (scissors), and wrapping in betel leaf
To smart the mouth with narcotic fire

After all, what can a woman with a few hundred rupees do
But to fade out to a cheap stimulant
For areca-powered lips are anecdote-spindles
Preserving folktales, reverberating legends
As they sit around a bowl of areca nuts and betel leaves
Sharing stories, laughing out in banter and droll
Grating the nuts with areca-nut scissors
Slipping through miserly cracks of reality
Ushering in a virtual blackout

And in this nepenthes of nut and leaf
You find the springs of Lethe
Seeping through mental tributaries
Injecting a dose of oblivion – to a tattooed mind
Painted of reality ink


Dr Dilantha Gunawardana graduated from the University of Melbourne, as a molecular biologist, and moonlights as a poet. He currently serves as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Botany, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Dilantha lives in a chimeric universe of science and poetry. Dilantha’s poems have been accepted for publication /published in HeartWood Literary Magazine, Canary Literary Magazine, Boston Accent, Forage, Kitaab, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry, Zingara Poetry Review, The Wagon and Ravens Perch, among others. Dilantha too has two anthologies of poetry, 'Kite Dreams' (2016) and 'Driftwood' (2017), both brought to the readership by Sarasavi Publishers, and is working on his third poetry collection (The Many Constellations of Home). Dilantha’s pet areas of teaching and research, include, Nitrogen Fixation, RNA biology, Phytoremediation, Agricultural Biology, and Bioethics & Biosafety. Dilantha blogs at – -, where he has nearly 2000 poems.

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