Rajiv Mohabir

Three Poems
August 21, 2021 Mohabir Rajiv

The Fox From “The Fable of the Fox and the Weasel” by Benjamin Larnell

 Last night R—, who I stole
ninety dollars from
as a child haunted me.


Is my heart a feather?
Hunger drives my wickedness
still. The hole

I belly-crawl through
into the silo will strip my meat.

Who can sleep
as the Amazon’s every insect
string their last harps;

as flame leaps person to person:
a tick-laden doe—?
What poverty to loose hum

from cricket, fire
from urge to touch.

Forgive me. I was both
scavenged grain
and fox.



I’ve wasted my life
shaking free my curses for you
into the wind—leaves from navel.

Yellow light against midnight,
I come open handed. No acorn
or aril to berry into

bower or sheaf. My need
evergreen, a tree I’ve wanted
to hack into firewood.

I am a pine overbearing
in drought. Come
drum time out. I will raise

my hands in praise
and vex at my fool body,

for my every uttered curse
was ever itself its own seed,
its own spring of prayer.



The slate stakes are cut out from the cliff.

The workers place nets to catch any falling rocks or stones that pelt down upon the cars below.

The trees in the courtyard were the last to burn in their orange and reds—orange the color of
yellow and rose gold.

The color of wanting to put my arms around your neck to draw them close, to press my cheek on
the cheek of some queer who I want to greet with strained warmth.

Touch-thirst is species of burning.

The shock of winter again breaks in through the closed window.

Pfizer says Coronavirus Vaccine Is Safe and 95% Effective.
I have grown rooted to distrust; cold to any red source.

At eight years-old, I wore a pair of sunglasses sold with personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut and
told anyone who could hear that I loved them.

I remember the Gulf of Mexico then, we watched the sun burn its streaks against water.

The neon pink arms of the shades the color of a kiss, the slap of my father’s You only love me for       buying you things, the truth of how I learned to love as an exchange.

The frostbit lip of a father’s words.

Rose gold. Viral.

Can I buy you, my love, any small thing that staves away winter or virus?

Remember when we used to have friends: that shade of yellow—or is it orange?

My toes curled against the carpet will show the traces of each strand of fiber woven together into
mock string, not wool, but a finely spun plastic.

The cat climbs my lap and gouges me with eight syringes.

You tell me I grow deep in you though it’s fall though its winter though its spring.

As an oak I am not Safe and 95% Effective.

What is a tree or a father or a lover—?

How have I become each one?

Rajiv Mohabir is the author of Cutlish (Four Way Books 2021), The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize; Eric Hoffer Honorable Mention 2018) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016, winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize, Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry in 2017), and translator of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) (Kaya Press 2019) which received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant Award and the 2020 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the American Academy of Poets. His hybrid memoir, Antiman (Restless Books 2021), received the 2019 Restless Books’ New Immigrant Writing Prize. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of poetry in the MFA program at Emerson College.