poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Kaveh Akbar was born in Tehran, Iran. He holds an MFA from Butler University and a PhD in creative writing from Florida State University. He is the author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017) and the chapbook Portrait of the Alcoholic (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). Akbar is the recipient of the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, a Pushcart Prize, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He is the founder of the poetry interview website Divedapper. He currently teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA program at Randolph College.

Against Dying

if the body is just a parable 
about the body if breath 
is a leash to hold the mind 
then staying alive should be 
easier than it is most sick 
things become dead things 
at twenty-four my liver was
already covered in fatty
rot my mother filled a tiny
coffin with picture frames 
I spent the year drinking 
from test tubes weeping
wherever I went somehow
it happened wellness crept 
into me like a roach nibbling 
through an eardrum for 
a time the half minutes 
of fire in my brainstem 
made me want to pull out 
my spine but even those
have become bearable so 
how shall I live now
in the unexpected present
I spent so long in a lover’s
quarrel with my flesh
the peace seems over-
cautious too-polite I say
stop being cold or make
that blue bluer and it does
we speak to each other
in this code where every word
means obey I sit under 
a poplar tree with a thermos 
of chamomile feeling 
useless as an oath against 
dying I put a sugar cube 
on my tongue and 
swallow it like a pill

Copyright © 2017 by Kaveh Akbar. From Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017). Used with permission of the author. 

Copyright © 2017 by Kaveh Akbar. From Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017). Used with permission of the author. 

Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar is the author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017).

by this poet

poem
Throw scissors at it. 
Fill it with straw 
and set it on fire, or set it 
off for the colonies with only 
some books and dinner-
plates and a stuffed bear 
named Friend Bear for me 
to lose in New Jersey. 
Did I say me? Things 
have been getting
less and less hypothetical 
since I unhitched myself 
from
poem

In god’s gleaming empire, herds of triceratops
lunge up on their hind legs to somersault
around the plains. The angels lie in the sun
using straight pins to eat hollyhocks. Mostly
they just rub their bellies and hum quietly

to themselves, but the few sentences
they do utter come out

2
poem

I wouldn’t even know what to do with a third chance,
another halo to shake loose galloping into the crossfire.
     Should I be apologizing? Supposedly, what’s inside my

     body is more or less the same as what’s inside yours—
here, the river girl clutching her toy whistle. There,
the