Rajiv Mohabir
Featured Writer

Forced Conversion


beti linepath school jaye, kheti kaun kari

beta christianwa bhaye, pani kaun charai


Not by the sword’s nose, but with books and cash,

to make an army in the colony with one aim,


the English decreed: “Those wanting to letter their tongues

must fetter their hearts by drinking blood and eating


human skin.” Barefoot and brown, Pap and his brothers

were compelled to respell their names in baptisms.


Scarring mouths in the sharp shapes of Rome in London:

machetes to hack om bhur bhuva swah, they proudly drone,


forgetting their home: amo – amas – amat –

to wander lonely as a cloud That floats on high—


Needles to numb the tongue, a mask to conceal

the smashed gods of stone, the coolie in the coolie. 


        If my daughter goes to Linepath school who will harvest my fields?

If my son becomes a Christian who will offer me water when I’m gone?





Chutney Mashup 


aaj sawaliya ham na jaibe bhitar

balma, ulat pavan chal gaya, chadar bechao


You tie your veil to meet me in the courtyard,

though it doesn’t have a neem tree. You wrap your limbs


tightly about mine as jamun fruits betray

their pedicels and stain the concrete with their wine.


The shehenai weeps for us only; inside

my strength has ebbed. Spread a sheet on the earth, balma,


that when weary we may lie on silk in peace.

Despite your wise restraint your morals will scatter


in a fire dance—what god can save us?

I will never escape the body’s betrayal.


The neighbor women jeer at the stains on your veil,

your inviting fabric I pleat between my thighs.


                                    Today, love, I will not go outside.

Love, against the backwards wind, spread a sheet.





OK, Cupid


he ram, he issa, kama dev ke ka jaduwa ba

ke computer ke onlainiya jaye tohar saiya se milba


Too much whiskey, I go to meet the man whose

thumbnail I’ve clicked and clicked. But I make it late


to the date. On the train I feel the pretty

Queens-queers eyeing me, blood about to boil


over buttoned jeans and then in my pharynx.

I down brown men who bic their pubes, who whirl like


ribbons on sticks. Souse-stumbling I stare back at

Trini dreads who grab their dicks—


track them behind subway maps on the platform.

Flip a gold coin and see. Heads to meet alone. Tails,


Little India. Some top in temple and church.

My predate gives it hard and I take it like a man.


               O Ram, O Jesus, What is the magic of Kama Deva

that online, on the computer, you will meet your beloved?