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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 as perfect poems. Here on earth we blather constantly, and all we say is divided between combat and seduction. Combat: I understand you perfectly. Seduction: Next time don't say so out loud. Here the perfect poem eats its siblings
in the womb like a sand shark or a star turning black hole, then saunters into the world daring us to stay mad. We know most of our universe is missing. The perfect poem knows where it went. The perfect poem is no bigger than a bear. Its birthday hat comes with a black veil which prattles on and on about
comet ash and the ten thousand buds of the tongue. Like people and crows, the perfect poem can remember faces and hold grudges. It keeps its promises. The perfect poem is not gold or lead or a garden gate locked shut or a sail slapping in a storm. The perfect poem is its own favorite toy.
It is not a state of mind or a kind of doubt or a good or bad habit or a flower of any color. It will not be available to answer questions. The perfect poem is light as dust on a bat's wing, lonely as a single flea.
"Of poetry, Heather McHugh says, 'As a daily aesthetic, it goes beyond rhetorical exercise: the main discipline is to keep finding life strange.' I understand this to mean poetry must wonder, must make an intimate partner of strangeness. I think my poem is deeply interested in that process." —Kaveh Akbar
Kaveh Akbar is the author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf, forthcoming in fall 2017 from Alice James Books. He currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
"What are the consequences of silence?" by Bhanu Kapil
Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-a-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends. If you enjoy Poem-a-Day, please consider making a donation to help make it possible.
Thanks for being a part of the Academy of American Poets community. To learn about other programs, including National Poetry Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day, the annual Poets Forum, and more, visit Poets.org.
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