Kaveh Akbar

Hazrat Ali son-in-law of the prophet was martyred by a poisoned sword

while saying his evening prayers his final words I am successful      I am

successful I want to carve it in my forehead I’ve been cut into before

it barely hurt I found my body to be hard and bloodless as

glass still for effect I tore my shirt to tourniquets      let me now be

calm for one fucking second let me be open to revision eternity looms

in the corner like a home invader saying don’t mind me I’m just here to watch you nap

if you throw prayer beads at a ghost they will cut through him soft

as a sabre through silk      I finally have answers to the questions I taught

my mother not to ask but now she won’t ask them      as a child I was so tiny

and sweet she would tuck me in saying moosh bokhoradet a mouse

should eat you I melted away that sweet like sugar in water like once-fresh

honey dripping down a thigh      today I lean on habit and rarely unstrap

my muzzle it’s hard to speak of something so gauche as ambition

while the whole wheezing mosaic chips away but let it be known

I do hope one day to be free of this body’s dry wood      if living proves

anything it’s that such astonishment is possible      the kite loosed

from its string outpaces its shadow an olive tree explodes

into the sky dazzling even the night      I don’t understand the words

I babble in home movies from Tehran but I assume

they were lovely I have always been a tangle of tongue and pretty

want      in Islam there are prayers to return almost anything even

prayers to return faith I have been going through book after book pushing

the sounds through my crooked teeth      I will keep making these noises

as long as deemed necessary until there is nothing left of me to forgive


Kaveh Akbar founded and edits Divedapper. He is the author of the chapbook Portrait Of The Alcoholic and the forthcoming collection Calling A Wolf A Wolf. His poems appear in Poetry, APR, Narrative, FIELD, and elsewhere. Born in Tehran, Iran, he currently lives in Florida.

This poem is one of three of Kaveh’s poems in issue 71 of Tin House: The Rehab Issue.