Kaveh Akbar
Exciting the Canvas

That the moon causes tides

seems too witchy to be science. 

The sea purging sheet iron, 

jeans, a jewel-eyed 

alabaster goat. Is that

why I'm here? Everyone 

needs kudos, from newborns 

to saviors. Nora, nearly three, 

draws sunlight in golden bars, 

not unlike an Impressionist painter. 

I like to think of light this way, 

dispensed in attache cases

to illuminate as needed. 

The famous poet said write 

by the light of your wounds. 

A drunk flies over his bicycle handlebars, 

crumples by the side of the road. 

Performed pain is still pain. 

Some people born before the Model T

lived to see man walk on the moon.

To be strapped like that

to the masthead of history

would make me frantic. At parties

(certain collapse at the door, 

my unbearable desire

to lick and be licked) I'd shout

I'm frantic, and you? Like a fire, 

hungry and resisting containment, 

I'd pound at the windows, my 

mouth full of hors d'oeuvres. 

Outside -- sweeping plains 

of green flora and service stations.

Odd, for an apocalypse

to announce itself with such bounty. 

I hear crickets chirp and think 

of my weaker heart, the tiny one 

sewn behind the one that beats (unhumble

birth, error of the blood). It lives there, 

made entirely of watery pink light, 

flapping at dawn like a baby's cheek. 

It doesn't take much, to love a saint 

like me. On a gravel road, 

the soft tissues of my eye detect

a snake curling around a tree

branch. Because I am here

each of these things has a name. 



Found In Volume 45, No. 02
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Kaveh Akbar
About the Author

Kaveh Akbar's new book, Pilgrim Bell, will be published by Graywolf in 2021. Born in Tehran, Iran, he teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph and Warren Wilson College.