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.

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