Rajiv Mohabir

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Rajiv Mohabir

The Day My Father Has a Stroke I Have a Filling

the leaves purple too—this bruise
in my gums is autumn

a tooth clamped, the metal
the pressure of hands tore at me

last night the dog sniffed out
the remains of a squirrel in the dirt

fog and cold dance on October wind
my tongue feels for the rough composite

I’m still numb for hours after
the call comes I can’t feel

if I’m smiling or if my teeth kiss the air
or if this lane into winter

will see the sun spinning in my chest
the way of the Gulf Coast

fighting conch shells on the table
the rich pink and orange sky

at the beach of my childhood or the gulf
that vaults the lyrics of lamentations

with the promise of a son
warming again, first a tingle in the lip

then the body’s memory of pulling
and grinding down of bone

despite Novocain

Rajiv Mohabir reads “The Day My Father Has a Stroke I Have a Filling”


Rajiv Mohabir is the author of three poetry collections, the latest of which is Cutlish (Four Way Books 2021, Finalist for the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award), and translator of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) (Kaya Press 2019) which received the 2020 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets. His memoir Antiman (Restless Books 2021, Finalist for the PEN Open Book Award, and the 2022 Publishing Triangle Randy Shilts Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir), received the 2019 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of poetry at Emerson College.