Kaveh Akbar



I won’t lie this plague of gratitude
________is hard to bear               I was comfortable
in my native pessimism               not this spun-
________sugar fantasy               last night I made actual

__________________________________cake               there were no worms in the flour no
__________________________bloody whirls in the eggs               afterwards the minor
__________________________________holiday below my waistband remained festive
__________________________as ever               when I touched two breasts               each one

was my favorite               not long ago I was hard to even
________hug like ribbons of cartilage cut
from a lamb               I dressed in shredded roses
________and pistachio shells               I drank an entire language

__________________________________and flung tar at whatever moved
__________________________until the world cut me open like a tube of paint
__________________________________until it crushed me between its fingers
__________________________like a hornet               none of it was graceful

I had to learn to love people one at a time
________singing hey diddle diddle will you suffer me
a little              
how could they say no
________how could they say anything               I kept

                                                            biting their tongues               I kept clicking
__________________________my heels               now I am cheery
__________________________________and Germanic like a drawer full
__________________________of strudel               I always wanted to be a saint

but I thought I’d be one of the miserable
________ones               sainted by pain               burnt alive inside
a brazen bull               instead I weep openly at obnoxious
________beauty               cello music comes in

__________________________________from blocks away and I lose it completely
__________________________there is a word for these fits of incomprehensible
__________________________________delight               I said it last night
__________________________when my mouth was full of cake


First published in Black Warrior Review, Issue 43.2, and reproduced with Kaveh’s permission. 



Kaveh Akbar is a recipient of a 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. He was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives and teaches in Florida. His newest collection, Calling A Wolf A Wolf, is forthcoming from Alice James Books this fall.