Poems by Rajiv Mohabir

• February 2021

So Jahaji Been She

         for Nadia Misir and Will Depoo

 

Wata in de cloud

                       come time fe rain

go fall doung, an’ whe’

            ’e does drap, deh

abi-dis root been a grow

                       in de paddyfiel’

an’ stan’ up in de wata,

            crappeau an’ salupentah

deh a’ abi foot.

                       Dem go come jus’ now

fe heist abi an’ abi go

            dry out an’ dem

go call abi chowr den

                       aftah cook, bhaat.

 

pānī vic mīn piyasī

Imagine me                 a house
without                        hearth.
Nothing                       to fill the roti,
nowhere                      to roll out dough.
Imagine me,                that pink shell,
a house                       my father
knocked down,            a façade road-facing,
wood rotten,                sold sold sold.
Imagine me                 a town named
Crabwood Creek         with neither
crab wood                   tree nor
creek.

Imagine me                 a thirsty fish—
what is inside              if not water?

 

Rajiv Mohabir is the author of three poetry collections, The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way, 2016), winner of the 2014 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry and a finalist for the 2017 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry; The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo, 2017), winner of the 2015 Kundiman Poetry Prize and an honorable mention for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award; and Cutlish (Four Way, forthcoming). His translation of a 1916 text by Lalbihari Sharma as I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (Kaya, 2019) received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant in 2015 and won the 2020 Harold Morton Landon Award for Translation from the American Academy of Poets. His recently published memoir, Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir (Restless, 2021), won the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing in 2019. Currently he is an assistant professor of poetry in the MFA program at Emerson College and the translations editor for the online literary journal Waxwing

 

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