Author Archives: onpapercuts

About onpapercuts

I'm a Sri Lankan New Yorker currently living in DC. I write short stories, prose poetry, and most recently, flash autofiction. When I'm not writing, I teach creative writing to kids and young adults, and consult on immigrant justice communications. Find me on Twitter @onpapercuts.

On Grease: A Portrait of a Woman

This is a stream-of-consciousness sketch I wrote about an “off-stage” character in my short story Kirkenes, Norway (p. 95, Ginosko Literary Journal). In that great way it happens sometimes, this character, Marit, swam to the forefront of the original story and became the most interesting figure in it for me.  I imagine she is in her 30s, living in post-war Norway in the 1950s. I don’t think we could be friends, but I like her.

Grease spots were profoundly irritating to her, and her clothes were full of them. She remembered scrubbing and scrubbing; lemon juice, baking soda, hot water, cold water–still the spots. There was no way to fry without sustaining these little oily insults, and she loved to fry. Vegetables, meat, anything. Her mother thought she was helpful–cold and quiet but helpful. It’s true she did other chores, but she fried because she wanted to. There was that side to her. The part that liked to see a piece of soft meat covered in egg and flour, all white and malleable, plunged in sparking oil. It always shocked her how quickly a thing could brown. Continue reading


On Leaving for the Parasol Paradise in the Sky

It was a cool, spring evening after the rains when I first saw you in Union Square. You were leaning heavily against the brick wall of the Barnes & Noble. Nothing housed in that cathedral of words could have matched the poetry of your slant, the pathos of your solitude. You had been left–but why? When I unfurled you like an early rose, you were strong. Under your bright, geometric blues and whites, the gray sky became again the vault of heaven. I took you home that day. Continue reading

Paleolithic cave drawing, Chauvet Cave. Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

On the hand of the spirit, or where the inspiration came and went

There is an anecdote from Werner Herzog’s 2010 documentary film Cave of Forgotten Dreams that comes back to me often. Searching for the answer to the 30,000 year old riddle on the cave wall, Herzog interviews several impassioned eccentrics. Among them is unicyclist-turned archeologist, Julien Monmey, who tells a story of how a Western ethnographer and his Aboriginal guide came across a decaying rock painting in the Australian bush. The Aboriginal, saddened by the painting’s deterioration, began to touch it up, and the ethnographer, disturbed, asked “Why are you painting?” The Aboriginal said,  “I am not painting. It is the hand of the spirit who is painting.” Continue reading

2 Dimensional Life of Her, Fur Elise Noble. The Publice Theater's Under the Radar Festival

On Under the Radar’s “2 Dimensional Life of Her”

Below is my review of the multimedia mind-melt 2 Dimensional Life of Her, currently showing through January 20th as part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival. If you are in the NYC area and enjoy beautiful hallucinations, you should see this show! (Aside: Speaking of hallucinations, I was determined to get this review in last night but somehow managed to stay up the entire night watching Whitney Houston clips and cat videos and only managed to start writing at the break of dawn. Continue reading


On Hurricane Sandy, only two months too late!

On Halloween night, my Keith Haring pumpkin (Keith-o’-lantern…carved Haringkin?) cast the only light in my blacked-out Lower East Side apartment. Hurricane Sandy was, and continues to be, terrible for so many people but my live-in man-friend and I were, thankfully, not among them. When we lost power on the evening of October 29, the first thing we noticed was the sudden absence of the city’s perpetual buzz, that near-imperceptible sound of urban life support in the form of countless whirring appliances. Continue reading

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in the ring on Dec. 8, 2012 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.

On why I like boxing and the UFC (really!)

I am a tea-on-rainy-days and sweeping-skirts-in-rambling books kind of lady but I love me some UFC, and occasionally, an electrifying boxing match (see above!!). More than two men turning each other into well-tenderized meat to satisfy the blood lust of the masses, UFC is art painted with your fists. A good fight is brutal, funny and honest. A good fight is immediate.

And in our age of tweet wars and drone strikes and international quagmires, it feels good to see two people meet each other in an open space where the borders are well-defined. Continue reading