8.10 / October 2013 :: Queer 4

Five Poems

Homosexual Interracial Dating in the South in Two Voices (Found Poem from Practical Taxidermy by Montagu Brown)

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Do not mix your orders of birds:
ignoring their enemies from different
parts of the world. I have seen
one or two in the “Black Country”.
A scarlet ibis is mounted in a case
on china gaselier. Need I warn
against such flights of art? I might
advise upon the subject: keep straight
like two arrows or sticks.

                                        Nature must fail.
The amateur may fall, being artistic
and natural. I never saw progress
unless a couple of young foxes
in front of their earth, in a declaration
of love, tumble at the water-jump,
riding to win, scramble after their
steeds.

               You dirty boy.
                                      Judgment in full-
cry might be executed by men seeing
this sort of thing and laughing at
the injurious epithets applied to my
perturbed spirit. These people know
very little.


 Snare (Found Poem from Practical Taxidermy by Montagu Brown)

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If you see a rare bird do not make him
up into a sparrow pie. He will haunt
the edges of the river, through the kindness
of the Lord. This is true of men and birds:
wheatears and ortolans are objects that flap
tangled in the grass. You bind them
with the noose of your boyhood’s favorite:
the spring, the dream where someone
else’s wedding ring comes off with practice.
(When a man falls into bed with another,
he falls.) With gin you easily trap water-rails,
moorhens, snipes, quail, or plovers. Or wait
and follow his down to his tangle of twigs to see
if he returns to a partner. Do not despair,
even if he lies with someone else with a pheasant
plume, you can twist a decoy call and
he will drain his last glass. In your leghold
he is powerless to your designs. But do not snare
in wantonness, without a hope of one day
being true: the beautiful manner as ourselves
in mournful satisfaction. Any bird beds another,
and then another. Press your breast
just under the wings to his and with fingers
and thumb grip him until the other is extinct,
and he forgets his prior bond, then unfold your own
Egyptian cotton to welcome the broken.


Rural Sports (Found Poem from Practical Taxidermy by Montagu Brown)

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In glade nets, stretched across narrows,
riding from tree to tree, for night-flying
woodcocks or wild ducks lay a trap
on the ground. Nets of fine black silk
slack, the bird is taken to a certainty
in attempting to pass. So fatal is the net
I recall seeing two men with ropes,
one man was let down, the other,
looked after the safety of the man’s irons.
I have been between heaven and earth once
or twice, dared the edge lying on my breast.
The faintest battle between land and sea—
below guillemots flying off in droves,
little black specks in white foam.


Play-bird (Found Poem from Practical Taxidermy by Montagu Brown)

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The best birds are not used.
Important in the performance,
braced by a peculiar knot, its head
and body are thrust through
so the loop catches it on each side.
The wings, legs, and tail are thrust
through the other loop until
the bird is tethered to the ground.
To the kestrels, this one is free
(as far as wings and legs are concerned).
Directly, mistaken birds appear,
the play-line smartly pulling
the play-bird upwards. It flutters
its wings to regain its perch,
a natural proceeding (on the left hand
the braced bird catcher himself).
Smart jerking soon kills the poor shrike—
the constant pulling up and down
and the falling nets. I dash at the call
of a most beautiful male specimen
I have received here in the year:
a great number captured by a play-
stick used at night for taking a lark.


A Body of Myths

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In a night cell you are half man half woman.
My father chases us into the wood, crying out

for blood, sickle-handed,
the forest’s roots and flailing limbs like asps.

I give you my name;
name you myself.

Can your papa count
my fingers as kin forever and ever?

Don’t melt his ears, Lord Shiva, it’s my goat head,
a goat head hungry for fig leaves.

Shame, shame, shame! I know your— 
In Union Square your kiss betrays—

not to a crest of thorns, but to a hail of fists.
Anywhere I chase the mango-sun

to jaw it whole is crowned
in blood with no chance of resurrection.


Rajiv Mohabir is a PhD student at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. A Kundiman and VONA fellow, he received his MFA in creative writing and literary translation from Queens College, CUNY. The author of two chapbooks, his poetry is published in or forthcoming from journals such as The Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Great River Review, Assacarus, and Lantern Review.
8.10 / October 2013 :: Queer 4

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