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1st September 1939

Vietnam War

The Vistula was silently flowing
Like a ghost fleeing a body, streaming
Past a sparsely-vegetated valley. 
While a Polish town slept, unaware
Of what was about to happen. .
Through the slippage of the night
There were monster movements, straight
And yet serpentine, stealthily
Inching towards a German camp near the border.
There was nothing left, to the imagination,
War was just a heartbeat away.
Tanks trampled past the last-remaining magnolias
Of summer. Flattened flower heads,
With anthers scattered on the sun-baked terrain,
Were found all over the outskirts
Of that Polish town. So were dead corpses
Lying unclaimed on the edge of the road.
And in this bleak wasteland,
No man or god, could separate faces
From blooms, or limbs from stalks.
You could say, there was very little to salvage here.
At least, the magnolias, hid their roots
Beneath the loamy surface, and bloomed
Again, the following spring.


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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