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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Rajiv Mohabir


Pontoporia blainvillei


Named for the gray
clad friars who prayed
for the well being
of animals and who
as Christians ravaged
the Charrúa people with bible
pages and syphilis,
this five-foot estuary
cetacean swims southeastern
rivers and brackish waters
of South America. In Argentina
a crowd pulls a calf
from the surf each clicks selfie
after selfie to tweet, passing
the thing from hand
to hand until
its greasy skin dries and
it perishes gasping
from dehydration
smiling all the way
into demise.


Heavenly father,
They have trust in us
as we have in You; though
they owe us nothing.
Grant our prayer
through intercession of good
St. Francis of Assisi,
teach us to be deserving
of such trust.


Victory to the crab or
to the half stag half elephant,
fish, seal, lion-
footed Capricorn vahana
of riverine Ganga-Mata,
victory to you, Vedic hybrid
air breather, berth of Varuna
god of the sea, guardian of doorways
and thresholds, sigil of Kamadev,
Markardhvaja, god of love,
victory to the oceanic dragon,
etymological ancestor to the gharial,
maggarmach, though
you are mammal of both
saltwater and river, crocodilian
jaws, chaos churn of delta-
mouth, victory to you
possible Gangetic Dolphin
or Ambulocetus, walking whale
who beholds even the Lord
Buddha, the earring
of Vishnu, preserver
of us all, Victory,
Sri Makar ki


Rajiv Mohabir is the author of three collections of poetry including Cutlish (Four Way Books 2021) which was awarded the Eric Hoffer Medal Provocateur, longlisted for the 2022 PEN/Voelcker Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Books Award. His fourth book of poems Whale Aria is forthcoming from Four Way Books in September 2023. He also authored the memoir Antiman (Restless Books 2021), winner of the Forward Indies Award for LGBTQ+ Nonfiction, and was a finalist for the 2022 PEN/America Open Book Award, 2021 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, and 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography. As a translator, his version of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (Kaya 2019) won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2020. In the fall he will teach in the MFA program at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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