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tS Cityscapes [Kolkata]: Glances before returning

tS Cityscapes is back with poetry and photography that seeks to  vivify cities and give both outsiders and insiders unique perspectives on what defines life and living in them. First up, Kolkata.

Glances before returning
h/t: Aritra Chakraborti ( Aritra Chakraborti is a renegade academic who takes photos in his free time. He fell in love with Kolkata a long time ago, and still searches for her face in every city he goes to.)  

Someone told me once
that nothing moves in Kolkata.

Ruins dilate
with the brevity of silence
in the crevices of your face.  

Even the ghosts,
drenched in sweat and tired of returning,
remain stuck in the traffic
at the crossroads.

The city
lies pulsating with hot breath
among the cavalcade of retreating glances. 

Night buries
the skin of glances
and spreads the mirror 
inside the jaws of the city.

Faces throw up meanings
beyond comprehension
amidst the tobacco breath
and castaway glances.

returning on square windows,
even the trace of death on glass
is legendary.

The evening melts the golden carcasses
into the laughter of wet feet. 


Nobody moves in Kolkata.

Lovers dust off broken irises
in the blinding recoil of laughter
and darkness.

Nothing moves in Kolkata,
not even a leaf remembers to stir in breeze
for the fifteen minutes
I remain stuck at Rashbehari.

There’s no place to move —
car bonnets kiss in mild consternation
to stop jaywalkers from squeezing in;

people jostle for placeright in packed buses,
as faces descend through rainfall and memory
like lumbering misconceptions

and shops selling condoms on the pavements
mock mannequins in brassieres
for their misfortune.

Evening flips open the laughter
into the seven-fold mouth of darkness.

Nothing grows in Kolkata
but concrete plants that vie with each other
like overgrown children
to erase the smoke from the orange sunset.

Stories of resistance
like glittering corpse and flesh
lie in uneasy graves
beneath classroom doors.

- Poetry: Deeptesh Sen | Photography: Aritra Chakraborti 

PS: If you’re a photographer or a poet keen to document your city in images or words, please drop us a line at: with a copy to!

Deeptesh Sen

Deeptesh Sen is currently pursuing his M.Phil in English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. His poetry has been published in The Statesman, Kolkata, the Journal of Poetry Society, India, Aainanagar, the Stare’s Nest and the Crab Fat Literary Magazine.