The Cowherd's Son

Tupelo. May 2017. 84p. ISBN 9781936797967. pap. $16.95. POETRY
In The Taxidermist's Cut, winner of the AWP Intro Journal Award and the Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, Mohabir paralleled the hunted animal and the hunted human, whose love for his own gender makes him an outsider within a community that itself has outsider status. In his Kundiman Prize-winning second work, the rift with community remains ("Son, you are fit/ only for the greasy smoke/ of the body burning on its pyre"), and the poet's anguish is expressed in an abundance of forceful images ("my palace will torment you/ with rubies you bleed/ when thorns prick your quick"). Here, though, Mohabir expands his reach, referencing Indian mythology ("the Cowlord rumbles, the sapphire/ hurricane of Yaduvansh rumbles") as he works his way through Indian communities from Guyana to Trinidad to New York. He scathingly surveys the consequences of colonialism ("Brits distilled rum in coolie blood") while capturing the sorrow of those far from home, often involuntarily ("Every night Sita dreamed an India that/ did not want her back." There are moments, too, of superb tenderness ("I say your words at night to taste you").
VERDICT Gemlike poems that will reward many readers and surprise not a few.
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