Sanjukta Dasgupta: Poetry (Voices Within 2021)

Sanjukta Dasgupta, Former Professor and Former Head, Department of English and Former Dean, Faculty of Arts, Calcutta University is a poet, critic and translator. She is the recipient of numerous national and international grants and fellowships and has lectured, taught and read her poems in India, Europe, USA and Australia. She was the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, United Kingdom. Apart from her books on literary studies, media and gender studies, translations and Tagore studies, her articles, poems, short stories and translations have been published in journals of distinction in India and abroad. She is a member of the General Council of Sahitya Akademi New Delhi, and Convener of the English Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi. She is also the President of the Intercultural Poetry and Performance Library at ICCR, Kolkata. 


The wailing and yelping 
Of ambulance sirens
The wheels speeding on the tarmac
The restless heads on pillows
The oxygen tubes seem clogged
Do the ventilators have vents?
Breathless, the body burning with fever
Eyes bulge and goggle
Serenade of wailing sirens 
Waft into the hospital dorms
Waft into homes
No one knows who will be next
Sleepless nights tormented 
By the urgent cries of speeding wheels
Throughout nights and days
Like zombies they live from day to day
Like zombies they sleepwalk through the night
The invisible armies of murderers 
Stalk everyone, everywhere, at all times.


I smell death in the air
I smell death in the gardens
I see death everywhere
I hear the groans and gasps
In the darkness
I grope blinded
I touch a stony body
Someone lies dead there 
Who knows for how long. 
I died with them all
My soul left my body
Only to re-enter it 
I rise from my ashes


It was a ghastly procession
Of people bending pitifully
They held their backbones like crutches
They were spineless, slippery, bumbling jellies
What had changed them all
Which monster has transformed 
The noble and brave and righteous
To cringing sub-humans,
 Like Aldous Huxley’s baboons
They grin when commanded
They weep if the monster lashes the whip
Their robotic minds wait for commands
They are thought-free
They do not realize they are not free
They do not recognize how maimed they are
They have crushed into Nano splinters
All the mirrors of the world
For they can no longer face themselves

Autumnal Notes

Decay is scripted
On the sibylline leaves 
Of a despondent autumn
The pathway leading 
To the unknown domain
 Is strewn with fallen messages
In red, yellow and brown 

The path is nearer
The path is clearer
The path is now dearer
Than the circuitous mazes
Of life’s busy networks

 This path is a chainless stretch
Towards everlasting release
This mesmeric path beckons eagerly
But the sad dry leaves protest underfoot
The roots cling on desperately
Severance is not an easy choice. 

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