TEXTUTATION (2007) a sms poetry dialogue between Papia Ghoshal and Christopher Arkell


The first blood in the book to you:
Like a hymen, the virginal sheet has been torn
And who is bride, who bridegroom, can’t be drawn
Except by those who know its union true.
Overburdened due of days from April the 14th,
Halkhata had its search for the ‘right –red’ since
The mystery of the Mary, unveiled and, unfold
Birth of Christ, born close to the Gita..
Only gods and the poor bear burdens; instead,
This new year you have blossomed and fruited, harvest after harvest,
And I, one of your myriad gatherers, have taken no rest
Till my portion of you is in, and my soul’s ancient hunger fed.
And thus, the hunger feeds into age, ancience -
Ancient passion, ancient belief, ancient lull, ancient rain..
Ancient journey, ancient stillness, ancient sky, ancient earth..
Ancient present, ancient future, ancient past, ancient bliss …
... And into the ancient stories - Ares and Aphrodite,
Krishna and Radha: their hearts, enigmas of longing, dissolving; deepest of all
The ever-renewing virgin, drawing from the caul
Her purity, instant as lightning, and as creation – mighty.
Halkhata travels its space. Brindaban travels, travels Mathura..
Purity travels, the ‘right-red’ travels her menstruation days,
Virginity travels like the lotus whore; whore lotus..
Halkhata smells its hue, halkhata searches ancient ink..
From the lotus, from each of its hide-and-seek petals
(Opened and plunged), from each of its pulse-bearing tips,
The opalesque pearl-flecked liquid drips:
Write with this ink your splendours, etch them on God’s grimmest metals.
He the earthbound star-gazer, she the heaven-grazer of birds,
Wound here round each other each thread of line;
Neither knew ‘yours’ or ‘mine’
And thus they shared their last words...before they met again...



Kolkata International Book Fair

translated into English by Christopher Arkell


I don’t understand what it means to ponder,
I don’t understand the meaning of life,
I don’t even know the meaning of living;
I don’t understand the meaning of death
I don’t understand what it means to grieve
I don’t understand what is love, faith, wisdom, piety –
O mankind, let me live.



All the abasements she packed tight in her trunk
And she tied up the trunk with eye-water.
Then she journeys her road alone;
Then she bears her one bright corpse;
Then, unwished for, there’s almost an error;
Then the wish to err.
On a sea brimful of errors she floated the trunk.



Our neighbourhood girls will show their nests
Made from the white ties of petticoats;
Orange orgasms and the menopause
Bleed into foot-bands of yellow and black.
Clothes rails shed scarlet bras
Onto the neighbourhood’s blue alleys and out into its streets.
Colours drain down every last body.
Little by little the girls in the alleys
Shade off into black..


Birds peck and peck at their feathers;
Then comes a time when, swallowed by hunger,
They peck to devour each other.
All the while two magpies are mating;
All the while the local girls press
Two fingers to their lips, saying
“Two fer joy, two fer joy.”


Man of rust
With rusted sword in hand,
With whom are you at war?
Day and night you’re at the mirror,
Suited in false armour –
Who is your rival?
Inside these four walls
One darkness follows you;
Still you are en garde
For another opponent


He’ll be back one day,
The way the past comes back
To its floozie.
He’s forgotten that his floozie’s long since
Been lost in other men.


One bell quits the ankle bells.
It rings alone in the streets.
There is no other music
Aside from the noise of traffic.
You’ve all been deaf a long time;
Aren’t you still deaf?


The spent blue hue drips down the canvas
The brush is falling asleep
One dark arithmetic paves the way
The blind geometry rules
Awake only, the planet that’s next to grammar;
And the text books are silent


Michael looks through the camera sights
towards twilight;
One or two stars emerge from his flesh
As he spreads out, like a girl, his long hair:
He is trying to hide his male flesh.
The language of twilight seeps from his flesh
to my flesh:
There’s mutation of birth, person, name.
From his male flesh, Michael mines for the hidden breasts, vagina,
all female desires.
In the black coffee dark he touches me and says,
“From now on I’m Victoria, I don’t know anyone called Michael.”
I gaze through the camera at the soft flesh;
I observe fear circling over Victoria,
Assailed by the cheap jokes of men, their fun, their gags.
Michael returns with the light of day;
In his eyewater, there floats Victoria’s raped flesh.



The cracked mirror talks only about striving.
Your face striving
Your breasts striving
Your stomach striving
Your vagina striving
Your eyes striving
Your eye-water striving
Your heart striving
By standing in front of the mirror, your days of menstruation slip away.



As if we are hacking a path through the darkness,
As if we’re engrossed afterall this while by the moon’s refulgence,
So long have I borne on my back my corpse
As if I will listen once more
To the ear-market struggle between grave and allegro,
As if after all this while one comes and says
Unknot your hem and run to me.