Four Poems by Kiriti Sengupta

Painting: Kathy Collins

By Kiriti Sengupta 

Editor’s Note: Deploying languages of mythology, medicine, and aesthetics, Kiriti Sengupta’s poems probe deeper to reveal what lies behind the aura, what the light cannot penetrate, and what the mainstream understanding lacks. As always, Sengupta’s poems conceal more than they reveal and reveal more than they conceal. – Mosarrap H. Khan     


We can’t find the source
when he wakes us from sleep.
Snivels are his lingo of wabbit.
Berceuses fail to dull him.
Pats on his posterior
offer no repose.

Infants latch onto patois
which parents wish to recall.



(after Bhanurekha, stage name Rekha, one of the divas of Indian cinema)

That I’m an aesthete and a Re-enthusiast prompts one to show curiosity: She is married, isn’t she? Following Indian tradition she wears the vermilion! To this I evoke her facade: Red adds to her ebullience, but she is considered the greatest camouflage.

That she dons golden conjeevaram and radiant fripperies for public appearances, my mentor describes her as a Christmas tree. I don’t find it cynical; I address the concern: In spite of green needles the tree is furnished with animated reveries.

That admirers fail to detach her courtesan avatar from real life identity has nothing to do with the gajras she carries. I’m jealous: The jasmines are lucky!

That we hardly remember the initials of her first name does not prevent sunshine to fall for her. Looking at her middle parting I find relief: Scalp should look ivory.

She says that she prefers being called mystique (but not mysterious) and intriguing (but not sexy). This helps in the refraction of her luminescence, and I spot the prism: White has its share of density.

Note: Bhanurekha is the union of two words: Bhanu (Sun) and Rekha (Line). It means sunbeam.



I have a reason to suspect the vision when they say it is a kaleidoscopic world. Is it color deficiency? Textbook suggests: inadequacy lies with the cone cells. I doubt how many colors they can see! Does the earth become polychromatic only by envisioning a color or two? Then, why do we call it a red rose? We could have said it a variegated blossom. Why do we refer coal to as black? Coal is psychedelic, rather! What about “milky white?” Milk is rainbow; correct me if I’m not right. How many hues have you envisaged so far? I ask about the hues but not your bizarre way of depicting them. I figure out the similarities and differences between color and queerness. I also assess the tints of your eccentricity. They are red, yellow or blue. I’m aware human beings, with all their strangeness, point at their feelings to describe colors. Laughter-wail-jealousy, grief and joy: what are paints barring these sentiments? How can one describe the earth as varicolored? Let me ask: what is the color of deafness? How will you tinge a mute tree? Can you stain dumbness in any tint? Is clot the only color to portray the wounded genital of a woman? Does it not have a male filth? The lesion also marks tears. You know, water is achromic and otherwise called life!



Aesthetes preach Tagore.
Officials display replica of
the Nobel Prize.

Kiriti Sengupta is a poet, editor, translator, and publisher from Calcutta. He has been awarded the 2018 Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for his contribution to literature. He has published eleven books of poetry and prose and two books of translation and co-edited six anthologies. Sengupta is the chief editor of the Ethos Literary Journal. More at


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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Poetics and politics of the ‘everyday’: Engaging with India’s northeast”, edited by Bhumika R, IIT Jammu and Suranjana Choudhury, NEHU, India.

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