Excerpt of a review of EROTEXT desire, disease, delusion, dream, downpour by SUDEEP SEN ( Random House India 2016) published in the wagon magazine 2017 April -By Dr.Vyjayanthi

Can we judge a book by its cover? Especially if the cover is carrying comments by the “who is who” from various professional walks of life. Being a psychiatrist and a poet, I was enticed to read the book as the title refers to Eros as an overarching theme that takes within its fold the sub themes of desire, disease, delusion, dream and downpour. The five ‘D’s intrigued me and I kept returning to them as if they were the epicenter of an earthquake. And then there were the twin chairs of the cover photograph – perhaps a symbol of duality, of ‘Eros’ + ‘Text’? Truly, if life could write itself, this is how it may read, not bound by a specific structure, word count or rhyme or reason. Insights are graded along six parameters while we study psycho pathology, although Eros is where life originates and Thanatos is the force of death. Opposites contain each other and there are flashes of dying in the section of disease of the body, explored in skeleton, joints, temperature, fluids, breaths, and blood.

In ‘Magnetizing Dead Bones’, a disturbing portrayal of the Intensive Care Unit and the experience of what may remain even after death, just the clean bones? Interestingly it seems to refer to Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a sort of literal meaning ascribed to scientific jargon. Electrocardiography- “A person in the room can sense electricity, invisible photons”, again ‘ultra-sonography’ is mystified in fleeting allusions to sound waves. There is whispering vulnerability, “What can I create despite this urgency…Nothing really, certainly nothing that is worth any effort….” The body is minimized and life is trivialized: “They say imagination can conquer anything even the body. It isn’t true.” There is a relentless search for meaning even as the body suffers: “The lyrics, if they are meant to, will emerge at the vanishing point”. Humanizing the near death experience is a strong effort in this flash fiction. The words are profound as they equate creativity to something that lives after death. I was reminded of Bessel Vander Kolk’s book Body Keeps Its Own Scores in the reference to ash, bone ash and the abrupt escape into bone-drafts of metered text. Starch and the nurse trying to induce a lullaby, the power of breathing, and virility of ash are images foretelling life amidst death. The ecosystem of the hospital dominates the disease in this fiction, a hesitation to explore the disease or a story of hope- open ended, it lends itself to interpretations like a poem or a dream.


All that I wanted from
you was so complete
With every fragment of cloth
in its place, your hands on
my full sleeved dress
my chin on your shoulder with
shirt,ready to get wet by
my tears.
Taking less than a minute.



Trauma is different from stress.
Trauma is any event that threatened the life or psychological/ physical integrity of an individual, exposure to killings of others ,sexual violence against the individual(rape/being stripped in public/in private by one or more persons) or his loved one , death of a loved one by murder or suicide, bullying, violation of boundaries in public(experiencing slander or circulation of personal material of the person among public i.e individuals with whom the person did not share a confiding relationship)and also being in disasters.
Man made disasters or personal trauma is more resistant to healing than impersonal or natural disasters, where violence does not carry a personal significance.
Events that can cause extreme stress if they occur in quick succession can also cumulatively have the same effect as trauma.
I would like to now elaborate what happens to the brain when an individual is traumatized, as early as 1907 Pierre Janet described “vehement emotions” interfere with integration of traumatic memories, because they are not adequately processed they become separate from ordinary consciousness.

/ \
(Explicit) (Implicit)
(verbal) ( Procedural )

Declarative memories are usually non traumatic memories, hence can easily become narratives or anecdotes. Declarative memory has both semantic or conceptual memories and autobiographical memories. Declarative memories are about what happened.

Implicit or non declarative memories are procedures, how to ride a bike or how to swim, how to make pasta, how to wear a braid, how to kiss, how to make love. It is about how it happened.
Even teaching these skills requires action and not words.

This is why we say what we were taught to say and do what we saw our parents or teachers did! If there is a discrepancy, it is embedded in two separate areas. We learn about ourselves by reflecting on our actions.

Traumatic memories were filtered by the hippocampus a part of the brain( Limbic system)that when in a state of arousal sends the signals to be stored in procedural or somatosensory areas, as emotional states, imagery, sensations and will not be integrated as verbal or declarative memory in to the cerebral cortex. We all have a problem verbalizing experiences that caused intense horror, helplessness, humiliation, hurt because they were not verbal memories at all, they are feelings of hot cheeks, red ears, choking throat, pricking eyes, rigid clenched fists, weak knees, beating heart, pounding head, butterflies in the stomach, wish to disappear deep inside a crater in the earth ….Now, is this not poetry?

Traumatic memories are timeless, like poems …They bond us to archetypes, we see the similarities in epics, history, as personal transforms in to collective the traumatic effect reduces. Traumatic memories are processed piecemeal; heart takes time to accept what the mind already knows. And very often poetry and the images that you employ to convey an idea or experience can later help you to construct a narrative or prose. That would be finally integrating traumatic memories to the consciousness, without overwhelming one self…… Perhaps the essence of art is to transfer what the artist feels to the audience or readers.

Cast away all speech
Our words may express it
but cannot hold it
The way of the letters
leaves no trace
Yet teaching is revealed (Zen)

At age four my major milestone
was standing on my head
Weeks of practice were
spent achieving this feat
Shaky starts finally led to
standing unaided at will
When grandparents came for
their annual visit
I planned to be the star of the show
dazzling them with feats of my balance
Slowly I walked to the centre stage
and stood on my head
Grandfather bent down , and joined me
on his head
( Written by Malia grade 8th , excerpts from Teaching poetry writing to Adolescents. by Joseph I Tsujimoto
ERIC Clearing House On reading and communication skills )

Poetry also demands the first person more often, hence makes you acknowledge your own stand, however different it may be from the world. And it creates a dialogue with authority that refuses to communicate in words. It is a an effort to bridge the verbal left brain with the silent feeling right brain the two hemispheres of human brain that do not co ordinate when there is psychological trauma. Right brain often will see the forest , while left brain is counting the trees.
Poetry requires both to be alert….

Passing an upturned carriage
the driver suddenly awakened
Surrendering to sleep invites disaster

Perhaps after writing this poem, one can sleep, because one has learnt where to be hyper vigilant, and where not to be. Poetry is a genre that is emotionally intelligent.
( To Be continued )

Creative Imprisonment

If I write a poem of desire
There is moral policing
Search warrant for the source.
If I write a poem of renunciation
There are prescriptions for aphrodisiac.
Some prisons have eyes in every wall.
Ears in every window.
Tongues in the floor that wag with out a bone.
Alphabet does not block the flood gates.
There is a word for every form of harassment.
This is a prison that has abundant air inside.
I breathe air that has no color.
No boundaries.


Those corridors of my mind
Remain tightly shut
As I open the doors of
various rooms
Explorer in my own house
Fear had different hues
Darkness was a solace from hurting light
The floor was always a reality
At times springing a surprised flower
Like laughter that was more contagious
than a yawn
Sky was often visible
Sometimes like a childhood I forgot
At times desperate for mother’s lap
A troubled conscience like a father
lost with out a map.
Not knowing who was guilty nor the
definition of crime.
A sister I almost lost on a giant wheel
A God stayed immovable like
a book full of knowledge, waiting to be read.
Those corridors of my mind may open one of these
days , like a bird who breaks her cage
And sets a trail of flames that are purely hot..


You try so hard to push me
down the gutter
You toil day and night
to ensure that I am loved by none
Every word of mine is used to assess me
in the worst light
Every person I meet is used to judge
I gave up on love long ago
Do not resuscitate
just to enjoy the kill…..
Leave me my paper world
Spare me this world of make believe…
Do not spy on me all the time
Just to feel in control
Quoting me out of context
I am tired of being on trial
for wanting compassion
For feeling compassion.
I can sleep easily
Said the man with out conscience
After the kill….
He liked the fight
Fingering a woman
Her mind was their arena
Two men or more against one mind
The weakest hated her the most

( Reblogged from intrudesite published in 2016)


This door will not open again to the same knocking hands , the ones which broke everything inside. Numbness is in her brain now. She does not care at all. It takes one word , one hesitation, few names  and she just vanishes , not physically .. she no longer exists. She has judged you. How easily , thoughtlessly you taught her to be frugal with love, with expression and movement. Hurt lips do not smile. Injured feet do not dance. Betrayed heart will not trust. You blinded her again as you were envious of her vision. She has turned deaf to all songs. Shock treatment ? it seems they gave it to her repeatedly. Till she stopped believing even news of death. All he wanted in sporadic moments was a healthy ovum , a young uterus to immortalize his shrinking universe. Always he wanted an opportunity that he could portray as generosity.She was his nemesis , she portrayed her selflessness as selfish , because she wanted to be believed. No one believes the one too good to be true…..They believe selfishness …. Slowly she gave up on the butcher and began to pity his polydactyly. He need not have repeatedly waged a war to prove him self as right…. there was this time when he had to admit he was wrong, he delayed it…she waited for his conscience to wake up… Conning Science , is all that he did. She tried for so long to believe him…….knowing that was all she wanted from love.