The Taxidermist's Cut

Rajiv Mohabir. Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (98p) ISBN 978-1-935536-72-7
In his excellent debut, Mohabir exposes desire and inner turmoil through the measured incantations of a queer, Indian-American voice that refuses the burdens of a homophobic and racist world. He eloquently describes how the brown body survives, clinging vigilantly to longing, lust, and love: "I mean to say/ I am still—this trembling breath of a comma, this coincidental object of your want." This finely detailed and chiseled work recalls the precision hinted at in the book's title: "Pick up the razor./ It sounds like erasure." In many ways these poems evoke a queer Larry Levis; narrative poems take strange and unexpected turns: "the man opposite you will blaze/ in your throat when his denim// and leather are a nest/ calling birds to their weaving." Sensual and rhythmic, Mohabir's observational gifts evoke the strange and intimate: "your nail beds are filled with fresh soil, hair ripped/ out by the roots, and semen." In between these twists and turns are masterful strokes of what W.E.B. DuBois would have described as the double consciousness of the minoritarian subject. Mohabir illuminates his own wounds, and as the reader watches him dresses and stitches those wounds, "A queer flutter knocks about your ribs." (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
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