View from Hantane

1024px-Hanthana_Mountain_Range

By Malinda Seneviratne

Looking down from Hantane

night and Kandy

full of candles in silence

and the time carved mood rode

on across our skies

no pity for the collective dead

and scattered flesh on the roadside.

But our hands have been too full

of blood and entrails

to permit mourning.

No time for sadness,

we have no time for love.

Only anger,

Riding along our veins,

Aching blood

of having been born

in the sixties and early seventies.

We have had to watch the slow ceremony

of charred bodies flowing down history,

marking time.

But there were eyes that once gazed on Hantane,

eyes that saw beauty and brutality;

shining eyes that had captured

the sparks of revolt,

hearts that crept into her shades

and were swept by her breeze

youth that did know love

and injustice

and mothers and others who loved

these children.

Hantane, September 1989

From the collection ‘Epistles: 1984-1996’

Source: malindapoetry.blogspot.com

BACKGROUND: Where is Hantane?

Hatane hills are in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Check out this video to savour its splendour

Summer Nights

Photo by Egor Kamelev from Pexels

By Maironis (1862-1932)
Translated by Peter Tempest

Peaceful charm of summer nights,
Not a leaf in treetop stirs.
All is tranquil, all is quiet–
Peace that only stars disturb.

All is sleeping, all is quiet,
Dreams of love the world enfold.
Full of yearning, dreams inspired
Lull the heart, the heart console.

Summer nights of peaceful charm,
Grieving hearts with rest you lure!
Grief galore the earth endures…
Only you breathe peace and calm.

Peace and calm! With magic force
You send Nature off to sleep.
Can;t you soothe my wild desires?
What should I feel anguish for?

All the world I would embrace,
I would love Almighty God.,
Lasting Beauty I would grasp!
What an I despairing of?

1920

From: The Amber Lyre, 18th-20th Century Lithuanian Poetry

Photo by Egor Kamelev from Pexels

Winter Flowers

pngtree-chinese-painting-plum-blossom-winter-chinese-style-ink-can-be-commercial-png-image_631409

By Stanley Moss

In fresh snow that fell on old snow
I see wild roses in bloom, springtime,
an orchard of apple and peach trees in bloom,
lovers of different preferences
walking naked in new snow, not shivering,
no illusion, no delusion, no bluebells.
Why should I live by reality that murders?
I wear a coat of hope and desire.
I follow fallen maple leaves abducted by the wind.
I declare I am a Not Quite, almost a nonentity.
I fought for that “almost.”
I lift up and button my collar of hope.
I simply refuse to leave the universe.
I’m all the aunts in my father’s house and all my uncles too.
I had fifty great-great-grand-grandmothers
who got to Paradise, like Enoch, without dying.
Once my friends and I went out in deep paradise snow
with Saint Bernards and Great Pyrenees
to find those lost in the blizzard that God made for Himself
because He prefers not seeing what happens on earth.
With touch He can hear, taste, smell, see,
and He has fourteen other senses there are no words for.
Memory, He said, is a sense, not a power.
Who am I to disagree with Him?

The Forest of Anykščiai

Photo by zhang kaiyv from Pexels

By Antanas Baranauskas
Translated from the Lithuanian by Peter Tempest

How fine are forest sounds, not only scents!
The forest hums, resounds with eloquence,
While midnight brings a silence that is so
Profound you hear each leaf and flower grow,
Hear tree to tree in gentle whispers call,
Each star through heaven move, each dewdrop fall.
The heart is hushed, such peace reigns everywhere
The soul soars heavenward in quiet prayer.
But when the new day dawns with gleaming brow
And blades of grass, dew-laden, earthward bow
The forest wakens, night-time silence flees
And day again resumes ts melodies.
That rustle? It’s a leaf the breeze has stirred
Or, stirring in its nest, a waking bird.
That crackling? It’s a homebound wolf who, loath
To hunt by day, breaks through the undergrowth.
A captured duck the fox bears to his lair,
A badger scurries from his burrow there,
A roe bounds past, a squirrel neatly takes
A flying leap onto a bough that shakes,
A stoat or marten rummages about…
The forest creatures are all up and out.
Who taps? A woodpecker up in a tree.
Who splutters there? An angry snipe, you see.
Who whispers? It’s an adder you hear hiss
Or it’s the river laps her banks in bliss.
Who’s talking? By the water gabbling geese.
A stork its long beak snapping without cease.
On marshes ducks are landing one by one.
The whooping hoopoe asks his wife and son:
“What-what-what-what to bring you? Speak in turn!
What-what? A grain of wheat? A fly? A worm?”
The cuckoo glancing round cuckoos for us
And laughs and chuckles, weeps and makes a fuss.
The forest rings. The oriole teases Eve:
“Eve, Eve, believe me! You this field must leave!”
The snipe call by the stream. Then in a throng
Of voices birds galore burst into song.
More calls and melodies from more throats gush:
The chiff-chaff, tomtit, siskin and the thrush,
The magpie, jay–each adding its own tune,
They laugh, lament and some play the buffoon.
The nightingale calls louder than the rest
In song full-throated, varied, full of zest,
Forever changing, ever reaching to
The heart as Lithuanian folk songs do.
Each rustling, stirring leaf too joins the surge
Of sound in which these varied voices merge
T sing a most melodious roundelay
In perfect harmony, no note astray.
The ear through not distinguishing each voice
Delights, as in far fields our eyes rejoice
When flowers in profusion intertwine
To make a single carpet woven fine.

1858

Source: The Amber Lyre, 18th-20th Century Lithuanian Poetry

Photo by zhang kaiyv from Pexels

 

 

 

 

Dimensions of Infinity

Photo by Marcelo Dias from Pexels

By Malinda Seneviratne 

To the fish in the net
a single drop of water,
to the incarcerated
a sliver of sky,
to the guitarist
whose hands were cut off
a pick,
and
lip-red
to the heart that said ‘no’
to a love that will not return.

From: Stray Kites, a Collection of Poems, 2014

Photo by Marcelo Dias from Pexels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnote to a heart-thesis

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

By Malinda Seneviratne

And when heart
is after-thought,
love is a footnote 
passed over,
one feels.
but no,
love is never foot-noted
only people are;
and footnotable people
are like necessary referents;
they exist
in periphery 
as mild adjunct 
to a thesis about other things.

From the collection 'Some texts are made of leaves', shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award 2011

Source: https://malindapoetry.blogspot.com/

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Afternoon on a Hill

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

By Edna St. Vincent Millay 

I will be the gladdest thing
    Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
    And not pick one.
I will look at cliffs and clouds
    With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
    And the grass rise.
And when lights begin to show
    Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
    And then start down!
Source: Poets.org
Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

What Are Learning Disabilities?

pexels-ian-panelo-3205071

In earlier articles we have discussed learning and how our brains and learning methods affect the learning process. Today let us talk about learning disabilities.

The first person that comes to my mind when thinking of learning disabilities is Richard Branson of Virgin Group, with over 400 companies.

“I left school when I was 16 years old,” says Branson, “partly because of my dyslexia. I couldn’t always follow what was going on, so I didn’t find the lessons interesting and became distracted. My teachers thought I was just lazy because back then; people didn’t understand as much about dyslexia as they do today.”

Although things are different today, the average person, including most teachers around the world, are unaware of learning disabilities, what they are, the early signs, how they come into being and whether they can be cured. But the good news is that there are people like Richard Branson who have proven learning disabilities do not doom you to a life of insignificance and inactivity. “On one of my last days at school, the headmaster told me that I would either end up in prison or become a millionaire,” says Branson. It was quite a prediction and he values the recognition that the master could see that he “seemed to think in a different way from my classmates, and had from an early age.”

In reading more about learning disabilities I also came across this comment from a young American, HB, who had been placed in the class with learning disabilities from the time he/she was six (in 1996) and kept in that class for much of elementary school. Today HB is still wondering in what capacity he/she has a learning disability.

“I have no problem with any form of learning today,” says HB. “I’m 23 and about two years from completing my Ph.D. in a field that requires me to traverse math, science, and the humanities, write extensively, and engage with people on a daily basis. Not to sound like a jerk, but if anything, everyone in the program seems to be having trouble but me. I find myself tutoring the students who were likely placed in the “gifted” programs in elementary school.”

Both these cases should offer hope for parents with kids who have learning disabilities. And it should inspire people who struggle with their learning disabilities.

What are learning disabilities?

Learning disabilities (LD), which are also called learning differences or learning disorders affect how we capture and process information. According to Dr. Sheldon H. Horowitz at the National Centre for Learning Disabilities in the US, LD is an umbrella term.

LDs can be defined as disorders of basic psychological processes that involve understanding and using language. These are disorders that affect our ability to receive, process, recall or communicate information.

Within the specific LD umbrella, fall a number of disorders.

Specific learning disabilities

Reading

Dyslexia, commonly known as a LD affecting reading is not just confined to reading words. It also includes issues with understanding what you read as well as the speed and accuracy in doing so.

Writing

Dysgraphia is the term for specific learning disorders involving writing. Dysgraphia could affect a number of aspects involving writing, and mean different things to different people at different stages of learning and in life. It is not just about how a person writes or holds a pen, but also about how they plan, organize and edit their writing. Dysgraphia includes anything falling within the domain of expressive written language.

Spelling

LD involving spelling can affect both reading and writing in a significant way.

Math

Dyscalculia or LD in math involves not just the ability to count, but also the way a person operates in the numbers domain including the fluidity and flexibility they show with figures, in estimating, measurement, money or in understanding rules and patterns that have to do with numbers.

Learning disabilities involve our senses

LDs are impacted by the ways we process information that we receive from our senses, says Dr Horowitz. “The way we listen, the way we view things and the way we organize information that comes in through our senses, through our ears, through our eyes, touch and any number of sensory processes.”

Auditory or visual processing

Some children, and indeed adults, may have very strong preferences about how they receive information. If they have challenges in the auditory processing area, they’d have trouble if the teacher comes to the front of the classroom and merely speaks or dictates notes without writing anything on the board or showing any pictures and other demonstrations. Those with visual processing on the other hand would prefer this method of instruction, as they’d be unable to fully and clearly process the information if the teacher silently writes on the board or tells them to copy something from a notebook.

The effective learning for each group depends on how effectively the information they must learn is presented, in accordance with their learning preferences. Not only will they have problems with understanding, but also in retrieving the information they heard or saw, in remembering that info and in processing it so some use can be made of that info.

And this is true not just for those with LDs, but for everyone.

Sensory and motor integration

This means how well we are able to coordinate what we do with what we sense and vice versa. Manual dexterity, fine motor control, eye-hand coordination are all affected when there are problems with sensory and motor integration.

There is a lot of research going on into how and whether learning handwriting, like many of today’s adults did affects our brains, including our capacity for sensory motor integration.

Social and emotional functioning

“Students with LDs are not necessarily those kinds of kids who have problems in the social domain”, says Dr Horowitz. But because so many of them often miscue language, mean something and say something else, or fail to find the right words, they could often be misunderstood or even ridiculed. They may also fail to pick up on non verbal cues when interacting with peers. They may not always know what is appropriate or inappropriate in a situation.

With maturity and practice kids with LDs can overcome these challenges. But educators have a key role to play in helping these kids develop self confidence. For example, if a teacher is going to ask a kid with learning disability in reading to get up and read in front of the class, that child is going to be fearful of this possibility. This affects both confidence and ability to learn in that classroom. By being sensitive to such issues, teachers can help children do well, and overcome the many challenges they face.

Children may have issues with transitions and changing class rooms and teachers.

What LDs are not

LDs are not a result of poor vision or poor hearing. People with LDs should not be confused with those who have Autism spectrum disorders. They are also not the same as those with intellectual disabilities, or mental retardation, as both the examples I cited above prove so clearly.

LDs should not also be confused with emotional disturbances, emotional or mental health issues.

Learning disabilities do not stem from cultural, economical or social disadvantages or your family background.

Nilooka Dissanayake is a Chartered Management Accountant by profession with an MBA from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. She is a freelance trainer with nearly two decades of experience. Her current focus is on providing attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to achieve personal, professional and business success. She is also a ghostwriter and is currently writing a book about success and related topics for a client in the US.

Nilooka can be contacted at sbimagazine@yahoo.co.uk | Twitter: @NVEDissanayake | Blogs: http://nilookadissanayake.wordpress.comhttps://mindculture.wordpress.com

This article was first published in The Nation on Sunday 31 August 2014.

Walking to the hospital

Photo by Felipe Cespedes from Pexels
From: Three Poems for My Husband

How the autumn dawn burned through
the misty broods and settled down in fire;
how quickly the sun glittered my shadow,
how my shadow cried, a moment, with joy.
A light frost, a vision of light crackling
down the maples, down the tinder ash.
I was the good thief. I held my Love’s
sweet breath, his beautiful, intelligent gaze.
I closed my eyes and he woke inside me.
When I saw, he saw the inflamed world.
A bird sang deeply from the gutter eaves.
When I closed my eyes I was elsewhere.
I walked through the fire of his sleep.
Source: Poetry (September 2015)
Photo by Felipe Cespedes from Pexels

“Hope” is the thing with feathers…

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.