Anthropocene: A response to the contagion and climate change

Sudeep Sen | Updated on July 04, 2021

“Death knells peal, numbers multiply, virus ravages us, one by one”   -  REUTERS

Five poems from Sudeep Sen’s new collection of poetry, prose and photography

Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation / Sudeep Sen / Fiction / Pippa Rann / ₹ 599



 drips ochre at 48°C,

drenched yolky heat.

Hotter it is, more

incandescent its colour —

 sparking laburnums

to ignite, incinerate.

Heat — saturating

shrouds brighter —

 dessicating our

throats, parched —

lungs heaving,

breathless, killing us

 dry — burning,

yellow amaltas pyre.



They were not simply names on a list.

They were us.

— The New York Times

Death knells peal, numbers multiply,

virus ravages us, one by one.

Newspaper columns loom, unsteady

ghostly apparitions on broadsheets —

name, age, date of death —

tall epitaphs in fine print.

Ink spills, bleeds dark — newsprint

blotting out our wheezing breath.

No amount of hygiene-ritual

enables our lungs to resuscitate.

Our lives — micro point-size fonts

on an ever inflating pandemic list —

black specks, fugitive lonely numbers —

the deceased, on an official roster.

Another sick, another dying,

another dead — yes, they were us.


Obituary 2: Nine Pins

One by one they are dropping dead

 at the rate of a heart beat.

Nine people I’ve lost in less than a week -

 Mangalesh, Mahmood, Asif, Astad,

Sunil, Vikram, Rachel, Karuna, Wahida -

 named and nameless.

Italicised epitaphs in multilingual script -

  so many that mere counting

leads to asthmatic laboured wheezing.

  This isn’t a macabre game of nine pins -

but living souls pinned to the gallows

  prematurely. Covid’s curse —R.I.P.


Preparing for a Perfect Death

I want to be shattered like a dream

Such a loneliness that wants to die


Get your papers in order — choose

your inheritors fairly — with love, care.

Outline clearly — who gets what,

what they are required to execute.

Execution after your execution —

their inheritance, your legacy.


Thereafter, the phase of reflection —

call all who you wish to one last time,

forgive those who have wronged you,

smile, hug, and give gratitude.

Record everything in minute details —

leave no unresolved business or debts,

donate your organs, give to the needy,

veer on the side of being generous.


Then, the most difficult part —

how and where to die, what to wear.

Be tidy and smartly turned out—

there is no room for shabbiness here.

Of course, one would like it to be

swift and painless, without any show —

an elegant private ceremony for one,

a dream end, a perfect death.


Ganga, Rising

not an absence but a presence, / dense as any

mineral,.... // ... of consciousness enacting its ...

insurgency / against a dark mountain.


Iridescent turquoise and muddy brown meet,

forming a darker shade of pleated fresh water.

At Devaprayag river junction, Bhagirathi and

Alaknanda merge. At this intersect, Ganga is


On a slippery rock ledge, a sadhu in saffron

robe sits cross-legged in a yoga asana,

meditating — two wet oval stones placed atop

each other in front of him are all it takes to

build a sacred place for worship — asymmetry

does not matter.

He prays in silence, the surging rivers chant

in chorus — inner calm, nature’s noise. Sparse

paraphernalia of ‘stone-water-prayer’ —

trimurti’s perfect triad — music of the spirit.

For some, it doesn’t require much to realise

dreams — a modest yearning, a higher quest

trishul / trident balance held in perpetuity.

Here, there is no space for perfectly rounded

pebbles or gentle musings — only large granite

outcrops can shackle the soul’s ferocity — a

jagged fierceness — not harsh, yet quietly


Sudeep Sen   -  IMAGE CREDIT: SIMI S


Excerpted with permission from ‘Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation’ by Sudeep Sen published by Pippa Rann

Published on July 04, 2021

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