Sudeep Sen

© Divya Adusumilli

© Divya Adusumilli


she has no english;
                 her lips round / in a moan ….
calligraphy of veins ….
— MERLINDA BOBIS, ‘first night’


My syntax, tightly-wrought

I struggle to let go,

to let go of its formality,

of my wishbone

desiring juice its deep marrow,

muscle, and skin.


The sentence finally pronounced

I am greedy for long drawn-

out vowels, for consonants that

desire lust, tissue, grey-cells.

I am hungry for love,

for pleasure, for flight,


for a story essaying endlessly words.

A comma decides to pr[e]oposition

a full-stop … ellipses pause, to reflect

a phrase decides not to reveal

her thoughts after all ellipses and

semi-colons are strange bed-fellows.


Calligraphy of veins and words

require ink, the ink of breath,

of blood corpuscles speeding

faster than the loop of serifs …

the unresolved story of our lives

in a fast train without terminals.


I long only for italicised ellipses …

my english is the other, the other

is really english she has no english;

her lips round / in a moan ….

her nuanced grammar-drenched,

silent, rich, etched letters of glass.

* * *

for Arjun

Onion-pink aorta transform

crimson-red — tertiary twigs


split, as installation art revolves

on its axis. They pose


as radiant organic sculptures,

made even more stunning


by teleradiology’s intense probe.

Five-beat rate scans —


magical images of living organs

captured remotely


from rural health clinics faraway

from city’s glass-and-steel labs.


Coral-shaped aortas rotate 360°

in perfect Brownian motion


on vertical hi-res lcd screens —

scanned images of the diseased.


They are beautiful however —

illness radiating inner beauty —


hidden architecture, looped,

dancing in secret helixes.


Teleradiology Centre, Bangalore

 * * *

for Chandrahas

In Room 4, the safe

embedded in the wall

has not been opened

in a 150 years.


It has seen history,

life changing, aging —

but no one knows

what lies within.


The keyhole looks worn —





dented scars

of attempted break-ins

worn openly

without safety’s care.


But what is inside? —

the first owner’s ashes,

her will, wealth, gold; old

currencies, lover’s relics?


Perhaps, it is best

kept as a mystery

in a world where

there is so little of it.


A spider runs across

the safe

weaving silver strands —

nature strings


her own signs

of preservation,

of protection — a web

masking talisman.


Flies buzz around

marking out

their territory

in an annoying tenor.


Wall’s peeling lime

flake off, whitewash —

failing to conceal time —

lose their glue.


A train of ants

enroute elsewhere

get distracted

at the keyhole’s gape.


Some tunnel in, but

even after days on end —

I do not see them

emerge      out again.


Gratitude Heritage House,


* * *

for Kim Morrissey


Ophelia floats

buoyant in sub-aqua blue —

her heartbeat

like the waning and waxing of the moon

or the appearance and disappearance of the sun —


She is the queen of penumbra —


She is not a mother, daughter, sister, or a friend —

she is a lover, a lover of all

who can unveil

the beautiful bacterial colours

without a microscope or lens.

Blue-green Lethe — looping lines —

wondrous incandescent

“river of regret”.

Kelp keeps herself elastic and moist and ready

breathing virus —

vacuum-bubbles whispering:

“Does Ophelia have cold feet?”

Blue-green veins leave imprints

insoluble in water, in air, on skin.


“The person you are calling is waiting,

is waiting, … not waiting.”

Two moon-beams

like tiny talismanic               oval stones

move in an arc — an elliptical orbit —

the lumen alterations


her breath of death,

breath of love,      a lover —

lost in history in a man-made myth —

waiting for a call —                           waiting.


Sudeep Sen by Sara BowmanSudeep Sen’s prize-winning books include: Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Distracted GeographiesRain, Aria (A K Ramanujan Translation Award), Ladakh, and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor). Blue Nude: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1979-2014 (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) is forthcoming. His words have appeared in the TLS, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Herald, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on BBC, PBS, CNN-IBN, NDTV, AIR & Doordarshan. He is the editorial director of Aark Arts and the editor of Atlas. 

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