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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

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

how much history is enough history     before we can agree
to flee our daycares      to wash everything away and start over
leaving laptops to be lost in the wet along with housecats and Christ’s
own mother      even a lobster climbs away from its shell a few
times

poem
Orchids are sprouting from the floorboards. 
Orchids are gushing out from the faucets. 
The cat mews orchids from his mouth. 
His whiskers are also orchids.
The grass is sprouting orchids. 
It is becoming mostly orchids. 
The trees are filled with orchids. 
The tire swing is twirling with orchids. 
The sunlight