The Blog of Cafe Dissensus Magazine – we DISSENT

Two Poems by Atreyee Majumder

Photo: David Senecal

By Atreyee Majumder


If at all madness can be contained,
It needs 280 characters –
A neat container.
Come hither, says Twitter, check notifications once in three minutes.
Count retweets.
Measure the latest outrage cycle
Or avoid with portraits of nude Asian women
Or ignore loudly with fragments of terse poems
Or engage with pretty influencers
Send a DM
Block them bigots
All in a            matter of seconds.
Neat packages of 280 angst
Some spilling over into threads
Some COVID19 fearstorms
Some lined up photos of dead men
In faraway warscapes
In drownedout wells
In African diamondmines
In New York prisons
Dead men and Tuesday flowers
All in a matter of seconds
Come hither, says Twitter,
Every morning
And my madness leaps out
Of its slumber
And a flame rushes through my veins
As I crack out 280 characters
Of love hate rage beauty deadmeninafrica riotindelhi COVID19.
Tweet, says my manic.



If you die, I will write a letter.
I will write this letter bearing witness to all the letters I’ve written in vain
All the years that have passed in vain
All these diseases that have eaten into our souls
I prepare to write you now
A final Pandemic letter.
A letter of letters.

Pandemic times are horrible indeed
Lives are cheap, medicines expensive.
The police beat up a man for going out to buy milk.
Horror of news trickles into my phone
And I calculate the dead
They have now exceeded the total number of my letters
Trade briefs from the ministry of commerce
Health briefs from the council of distinguished virologists
WhatsApp love from mothers and aunts
It all adds up into a massive percussion
My brain is pounding

I write you at this final moment.
You are now dead.
You cannot read me anymore.
Worms are eating your ears in relish.
You are now hop-skipping into a different soul
Disease runs through my soul
Smoothly, destroying the last grasps of feeling.
Numb is a number
A number of the dead
A phone number
Numbers are voices in my head.
You are dead.
And I am rejoicing
You are dead
And I am writing to my diseased soul.
You are dead
And I am counting the nails on my fingers
Just to check if some are lost
One can’t say in the pandemic times.
Italy Spain Florida
I walk the earth counting fingernails
Ensuring the dead have the right number
You are dead
And I am formatting my letter
On word processor.

This final letter
An ensemble of terrifying voices
That only talk in numbers
You are dead
And I am yet to die
This is the final number
One zero
You lose
I win
Survival is my defeat
I have lived through the Pandemic
Waiting for you.

Atreyee Majumder is a poet, writer and anthropologist. She teaches at the O P Jindal Global University. She is currently researching the contemporary life of Krishna bhakti in Vrindavan. Her first book on the time and space related to late stage capitalism – Time, Space, and Capital in India – is published with Routledge (2018).


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Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.


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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