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I Wont Lie This Plague of Gratitude



I Wont Lie This Plague of Gratitude

­­by 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



Kaveh Akbar’s poems have appeared in PoetryAPR, Guernica, PBS NewsHour, Boston Review, and elsewhere.  He is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Portrait of the Alcoholic (Sibling Rivalry Press, January 2017) and full-length collection Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, late 2017). He is the 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. 

This poem was originally published in Black Warrior Review and is shared here with the generous permission of the author. Read more about the author here.

Photo of Pier Angeli by Alan Grant.

Nos petites étoiles



 Nos petites étoiles


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 
(excerpts)

“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world....” 

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”



“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty...One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”

Peonies


Peonies 

This year       I need you more than you need me
Cut for bloggers, smashed upon your sisters in buckets, my orphans
I wave my cash at the flower farmers and adopt you, bulbous babes
Displaced delicacies, you are my children, my saviors, my paramours, the treasures to which I awake each morning as I anticipate your nascent opening
Your naked thrush-poms, sweet scent of love-nectar and the sublime momentary burst of blossom
I cannot make you close enough
I eat and smother you and yet I cannot make you too near

I long to thrust you into that space in my heart where lovers once ravaged
To sow you into that hole
That I might learn to know my love as holy
wholly
wholly
my own



-->

à la folie





If there was a god
Who could make a world in seven
How many thousands of days have
I sat not creating fire? No, I mean
A woman is not a rope-bridge

Peace Love


Peace Love

by Taylor Roberts

Dare I miss the days without the fog 
When all we sought was that purest note of wonder,
The jasmine gasp. Fallen Wasp,
I wandered where the groves once were.
I wandered, wanting nothing more.


Haiku

Students sit in protest at Woolworth's in Jackson, MS. Photo by Fred Blackwell.

Haiku 

by Sonia Sanchez


my bones hang to-
gether like pinched dragonflies
shake loose my skin



[copyright Sonia Sanchez, 1999]

How to Get There

alfred eisenstaedt


How to Get There


by Frank O’Hara


White the October air, no snow, easy to breathe
beneath the sky, lies, lies everywhere writhing and
gasping
clutching and tangling, it is not easy to breathe
lies building their tendrils into dim figures
who disappear down corridors in west-side apartments
into childhood’s proof of being wanted, not
abandoned, kidnapped
betrayal staving off loneliness, I see the fog lunge in
and hide it
where are you?
here I am on the sidewalk
under the moonlike lamplight thinking how
precious moss is
so unique and greenly crushable if you can find it
on the north side of the tree where the fog binds you
and then, tearing apart into soft white lies,
spreads its disease
through the primal night of an everlasting winter
which nevertheless has heat in tubes, west-side and
east-side
and its intricate individual pathways of white
accompanied
by the ringing of telephone bells beside which
someone sits in
silence denying their own number, never given out!
nameless
like the sound of troika bells rushing past suffering
in the first storm, it is snowing now,
it is already too late
the snow will go away, but nobody will be there

police cordons for lying political dignitaries ringing too
the world becomes a jangle
from the index finger
to the vast empty houses filled with people,
their echoes

of lies and the tendrils of fog trailing softly around
their throats
now the phone can be answered, nobody calling,
only an echo
all can confess to be home and waiting, all is the same
and we drift into the clear sky enthralled
by our disappointment
never to be alone again
never to be loved
sailing through space: didn’t I have you once for my
self?
West Side?
for a couple of hours, but I am not that person



[copyright Frank O’Hara, 1960]
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