The Best of Sanjeev Sethi

Sanjeev Sethi

Best is a tricky trope. On the day this selection was made, these seemed to be the best of my work for the readers of Setu. You may have another suite of poems. This is both the magic and the madness of the creative process.
--- Sanjeev Sethi

Sanjeev Sethi has authored seven books of poetry. His latest is Wrappings in Bespoke (The Hedgehog Poetry Press, UK, August 2022). He has been published in over thirty countries. His poems have found a home in more than 400 journals, anthologies, and online literary venues. He edited Dreich Planet #1, an anthology of Indian poets for Hybriddreich, Scotland, in December 2022. He is the recipient of the Ethos Literary Award 2022. He is the joint winner of the Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux, organized by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, UK. In 2023, he won the First Prize in a Poetry Competition by the prestigious National Defence Academy, Pune, during its 75th anniversary in the “family members category.” He lives in Mumbai, India. 
Twitter @sanjeevpoems3 || Instagram sanjeevsethipoems

Love Story

Sitting behind an old church
on a rainy evening
with the patters of rain
caressing their warn skin
is an odd couple.

She is half burnt
he is stone-blind.
The music of the vespers
is in consonance with
the crooning of their breaths.

Their eyes glisten,
ears attuned to each other’s
husky whispers
hand in hand, they sit
munching nuts.

On Father’s 69th Birthday
     In his hospital room

Everyone has a father  —
but only some fathers
sow the seed
for their sons
to break into song.

Historians chronicle
the cave-in of civilizations.
I can see your decline —
see it with precision and pain.

Father, you want to hold
the space you held.
But, is it my fault,
that your hands
now need me?


When a confabulation perches on an awkward crossway
with boyhood chums or a lover whose lane is no longer
a compulsion, I state with all the might I can measure up:
Everyone has someone or the other on their map.

Post hoc, I seek eye contact. Most are rapt with the routine:
Playing with the ice over their thirst quenchers or reading
messages on the mobiles. A few gaze vacantly at me.
Certain utterances: For the self.


Pigeons have no tenancy laws.
She placed her squabs on my sill.
When I protested, she gazed at me
with looks that were a hybrid
of hesitancy and hostility.

At night, the pigeons cooed.
Throughout the day,
the exhalation of their excreta
wafted across the apartment.
During feed-time, their twitter
was louder than church bells
annunciating crisis. But I was helpless…

Soon I decided -- to be kind to myself,
I had to be cruel.
I opted to evict them.
But there are no courts for this.
No legal machinery.
Only feelings.

Feelings have always failed me.

After Reading a Young Poet

You’re writing what I could have written.
But it was another season.
Maybe my skill never had your shine,
maybe my hull was never mine.

When I read you,
I read myself.
Truths you tell, are the truths
I could never tell.

You caress syllables to complete
the emptiness of your experience.
I know your trick, I know your trade,
I know your sieve, I know your song.

Unwittingly, in poetic hues you’ve condensed
the colorlessness of my canvas.
Should I embrace or exile you
from the kinship of my quirks?


Emperor of my isolation, I reign over
mottled enclaves of mind. Serrations
on keys to my kingdom are chiseled by need.

Readiness with inner rondure intensifies the aperçu
When a cloverleaf is choked, I taper off the runway,
making minutiae my hallmark.

I engage with embellishments in the sky,
observe run of breath, agile colonization by ants.
Welcome, a cold caller with warmth.

Are these fridge magnet smarts?
Wisdom for one, hogwash for another.
True as tics: inked on my letterhead.

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