By Rajiv Mohabir

(1961 film starring Shammi Kapoor and Saira Banu)

for Neha Longani

Remember when your mother came
and I made samosas,
or rather, she did the frying;
you told her I make your mama jokes
and that I kissed you once on my bed
and told you I couldn’t  control
my raging homosexuality?
We watched Shammi and Saira play
while we reenacted:
I don’t like jokes and refuse to smile;
you, ill-mannered while left and right
hiding others’ pregnancies. That night
J- threw an empty beer bottle
at your head—or was it October
you married John the Afghan while
I held my lighter as sacred fire
you walked around? You, younger than me
like Rajkumari dancing in a flowered gully,
and me Shekhar dour, swearing
I hated Shah Rukh Khan until you walked
in on me mid-Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
wearing my mother’s dupatta

and dancing like Kajal. I swallowed
madness whole those days
and still prefer the old ones to the new.


Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016, winner of the FourWay Books Intro to Poetry Prize, Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry in 2017). In 2015 he was a winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award. He received his MFA in Poetry and Translation from at Queens College, CUNY and his PhD in English from the University of Hawai`i. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of poetry at Auburn University. Read more about him at www.rajivmohabir.com