Published by West End Press

What the Bird Tattoo Hides

By Robert Bohm



In a new, compelling poetry collection, What the Bird Tattoo Hides, Bohm arrives in rural India in 1968, “seeking truth’s taste.” His stories about many of its personalities, including outsiders and their hidden histories, reveal the daily lives of haughty Sundara, labor leader Dev Raj, Meeda Mama, and Dada who likes “a few rums / before supper,” as they work, argue, celebrate, and raise their children, struggling to better their lives and sometimes taking up arms to fight for caste and class justice.

Bohm’s work challenges the West’s falsely exotic and colonial view of India. As he chronicles three generations in a single village, the author evokes a world that is both more haphazard and violent, and also more human and present, than one would otherwise have been able to imagine. Using sensuous, gritty, and stunning language, he confronts the nature of death and change, realizing that “Wherever the body is, and no matter / how unknown the locale, / it is home.”

Subjects: Poetry

Contributor Bios
Robert Bohm was born in Queens, New York, in 1943 and served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1968 at a receiving hospital in Germany during the Vietnam War. His first book, In the Americas, won the Great Lakes Colleges Association award for poetry in 1980. In his later work, Closing the Hotel Kitchen (West End Press), he portrayed growing up in New York, surviving the traumatic consequences of war in Vietnam, and subsequently departing to India.