Two Poems by Sampurna Chattarji


Aren’t I a looker, with my black-tipped fins!

With round eyes that gleam of beautiful things

Like my gentle nature, my freshwater soul

My charming gill slits as I rock and roll

Down the rivers Saigon, Menik Ganga and Hooghly

Flashing my stripes and throwing a googly

With a notch in my tail like a real moon

The cutest crescent-shaped reason to swoon

With my sweetest and toothiest smile

As I say, “Hello Human, it’s been a while!

I’m Carcharhinus hemiodon

But if that’s a mouthful, just call me Gone.”

I dined on inkfish and became a poet

If I don’t tell you, how will you know it?

I’m a ghost—as friendly in life as in death

And I’m saying hello with my very last breath…


I’m small, I’m stocky, I’m dead.

I rise to speak inside your head.

Once, we were a regular catch

But none of us were ever a match

For your tricks, your greed, your skill

At trapping and netting and making a kill.

You turned us into shark-fin soup

You threw us all into a mighty loop

You ruined our homes and our ease

By spilling oil on our rivers and seas.

After forty years they found me—dead.

I rise to speak inside your head.

Don’t you see, our lives are linked?

Save other sharks from going extinct.

Do your bit for all—it’s now or never.

From me, my friend, it’s goodbye, forever.

SAMPURNA CHATTARJI is a poet, fiction writer, editor, translator and teacher with twenty-one publications to her credit. These include Space Gulliver: Chronicles of an Alien (HarperCollins 2015, 2020), which she wrote while on residency at the University of Kent, Canterbury; and Dirty Love (Penguin 2013), her short story collection about Bombay/Mumbai. Her translation of Joy Goswami’s prose poems After Death Comes Water (Harper Perennial, 2021) has been lauded as a recreation of the Bangla originals in ‘a living voice, as inventive and vivid as the English of Joyce’. Sampurna’s work as an editor includes Future Library, an anthology of Contemporary Indian Writing released in the US in 2022. The most recent of her eleven poetry titles is Unmappable Moves, just out from the Mumbai-based indie-press Poetrywala.

Mae SAMPURNA CHATTARJI yn fardd, awdur ffuglen, golygydd, cyfieithydd ac athrawes wedi cyhoeddi un ar hugain o gyhoeddiadau. Mae’r rhain yn cynnwys Space Gulliver: Chronicles of an Alien (HarperCollins 2015, 2020), a ysgrifennodd tra ar breswyliad ym Mhrifysgol Caint, Caergaint; a Dirty Love (Penguin 2013), ei chasgliad o straeon byrion am Bombay/Mumbai. Mae ei chyfieithiad o gerddi rhyddiaith Joy Goswami After Death Comes Water (Harper Perennial, 2021) wedi ei ganmol am ail-greu’r Bangla gwreiddiol mewn ‘llais byw, mor ddyfeisgar a byw â Saesneg Joyce’. Mae gwaith Sampurna fel golygydd yn cynnwys Future Library, blodeugerdd o ysgrifennu cyfoes o India a ryddhawyd yn yr Unol Daleithiau yn 2022. Y mwyaf diweddar o’i 11 teitl barddoniaeth yw Unmappable Moves, sydd newydd ei gyhoeddi gan wasg indie Poetrywala o Mumbai.