Rajiv Mohabir


Rajiv Mohabir is the author of Cutlish (Fourway Books, 2021), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press, 2017), winner of the Kundiman Prize and honorable mention of the Eric Hoffer Book Award; The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books, 2016), winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry; and translator of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) (Kaya Press, 2019), which received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant Award and the 2020 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. His memoir, Antiman (Restless Books, 2021), won Reckless Books’ 2019 New Immigrant Writing Prize. Mohabir is an assistant professor of poetry in the MFA program at Emerson College and the translations editor at Waxwing Journal. Source

Why Whales Are Back in New York City

After a century, humpbacks migrate
again to Queens. They left
due to sewage and white froth


banking the shores from polychlorinated-
biphenyl-dumping into the Hudson
and winnowing menhaden schools.


But now grace, dark bodies of song
return. Go to the seaside—


Hold your breath. Submerge.
A black fluke silhouetted
against the Manhattan skyline.


Now ICE beats doors
down on Liberty Avenue
to deport. I sit alone on orange


A train seats, mouth sparkling
from Singh’s, no matter how
white supremacy gathers


at the sidewalks, flows down
the streets, we still beat our drums
wild. Watch their false-god statues


prostrate to black and brown hands.
They won’t keep us out
though they send us back.


Our songs will pierce the dark
fathoms. Behold the miracle:

what was once lost
now leaps before you.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Poems of Place

Racial Injustice

Science & Climate

Literary Devices:


two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


an instruction or a command


A stanza of three lines of verse that rhyme together or are connected by rhyme with an adjacent stanza.

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure