Kaveh Akbar


as a child I wasn’t so much foreign as I was very small      my soul
still unsmogged by its station      I walked learning
the names of things each new title a tiny seizure
of joy      paleontologist tarpaper marshmallow      I polished them like trophies
eager in delight and colorblind      though I still loved crayons
for their names cerulean gunmetal and corn-
flower more than making up for the hues I couldn’t tell apart      even
our great-grandparents saw different blues owing
to the rapid evolution of rods and cones      now I resist
acknowledging the riches I’ve inherited      hard bones and a mind full
of names      it’s so much easier to catalog hunger to atomize
absence and carry each bit like ants taking home a meal

I am insatiable      every grievance levied against me
amounts to ingratitude      I need to be broken like an unruly mustang
like bitten skin      supposedly people hymned before names      their mouths
were zeroes little pleasure portals for taking in grape
leaves cloudberries the fingers of lovers      today words fly
in all directions      I don’t know how anyone does
anything      I miss my mouth sipping coffee and spend
the day explaining the dribble to strangers who patiently
endure my argle-bargle before returning
to their appetites      I am not a slow learner      I am a quick forgetter      
such erasing makes you voracious      if you teach me something
beautiful      I will name it quickly before it floats away


KAVEH AKBAR founded and edits Divedapper. His poems are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, Narrative, Pleiades, and elsewhere.


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