Rajiv Mohabir

 

Fossil Record
       Rhodocetus balochistanensis

We all start out as wolves
stalking what prayers we can—
whether for benefit of others
or for my own melody’s sake
after the kill I eat my tongue
wet with blood and staccato
clicks. I survive by ignoring
the fires all about telling me
a mass extinction looms
and I should drop my flowers
and run. It’s no small chance,
older than Ambulocetus,
this fanged whale’s name refers to its
arched back, perhaps in supplication
perhaps part prolepsis
for the humpback and in this very song
and at the end of this line
I am fishing for transmogrification
in which you, speaker,
hold your breath, startled
at being so addressed,
hook a flaming
building and are surprised
that in a window you see
a mirror and a face
that is your own,
prostrating before the altar
of your own desire—
let’s be honest—
once for the benefit
of all but now
actually just
for yourself.

Lost Breath

adhiraat jab saans na aaye, toke jagaawe kaun.
agar ii sab maya ho, tohar andar jhilmilawe ka.

You watch beetles worm from the mouths of saints,
words rotting in books. Breath swims your capillaries

and exits your lips. You emerge to the asphalt
avenue; lace your shoes against the concrete web

of veins in night’s black. You hold a light to
a street sign; peel your eyes for an augury.

Tied to your throat, an amulet—its symbols
in a script you are illiterate to, a hare

ensnared by runaway thirst. Since, you’ve opened
your seven doors don’t lace holy words about

your waist, afraid of blindness on the path.
You have been doused in liquor and set ablaze.

Come midnight, if you lose your breath, who will wake you?
If this is all illusion then what sparkles inside you?

Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016, winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize). He received his MFA from Queens College and his PhD in English from the University of Hawai`i. In Fall of 2017, he will join Auburn University as an Assistant Professor of poetry. Read more about him at rajivmohabir.com.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of eight books and chapbooks, including This Visit (Blazevox, 2015), How to be Another (Cervena Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her ninth book, Heisenberg’s Salon, is available now for pre-order from Blazevox. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, and Verse Daily.