Vol XVI Speakeasy

Sampurna Chattarji Sampurna Chattarji PHOTO

is a poet, novelist and translator. Born in Ethiopia in November 1970, she grew up in Darjeeling, graduated from New Delhi and is currently based in Mumbai/Thane. Her nine books include three poetry collections—Absent Muses (Poetrywala, 2010), The Fried Frog (Scholastic, 2009) and Sight May Strike You Blind (Sahitya Akademi, 2007, reprint 2008); and two novels—Rupture (2009) and Land of the Well (2012), both from HarperCollins.

Her poetry has been translated into German, Swiss-German, Welsh, Scots, French, Gaelic, Tamil, Manipuri and Bambaiyya, and her children’s fiction into Welsh and Icelandic. Sampurna was the 2012 Charles Wallace Writer-in-Residence from India at the University of Kent, Canterbury. http://sampurnachattarji.wordpress.com/


There is no face slower than yours no mouth I want
to snatch words from more than when you open yours
to speak in a tongue that is not yours let me
lend you mine and with it the speed that will save me
from waiting for your sentences to end I can finish them
for you here
let me there is no one person I want more
to shake no person who makes me rage more
than when I am with you
all edge
I want
nothing more
than to hurt you
so I press myself against you
like a knife against your wet stone
and now
help me
stop this blood


Constructing itself piece by piece the evening around her like a Lego set
drink garden evening rain bells chime crayon cat cookie cheese olive hat
nectarine comic-book porcupine double-decker bed movie armchair love
out of all proportion but still fitting perfectly man woman child not hers
foldable table marked stone cartoon carrot toothbrush confession on stairs
in galloping cold this was what they made of it: an intricate emotion it would
take a long time to dismantle if they ever came together again like this


Words that must never be said
even entire sentences
so simple they spring idiotic
what is it we hope to extract
from the bark of this tree we are leaning against
from opposite ends of the planet what can we hope
to incise on it that will resemble the marks of lovers
young enough not to care about foolishness
the foolishness of declarations like raw white sap

( )

This is the love you didn’t want
the love you were afraid to lay
your hand on (as if) stroking the
face of a she-leopard laying your
head on the thigh of a lioness
(this is) the love that made you
hesitant and shy ( ) a hunter
without his weapons nothing
that might make you say
here I am take me


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