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The American Poetry Review

The American Poetry Review July/August 2019

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The American Poetry Review reaches a worldwide audience six times a year with the finest contemporary poetry, columns, interviews, photos, translations, and reviews. Every issue includes new voices, established masters, and exciting new translations.

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United States
World Poetry, Inc
6 Issues

in this issue

23 min.
when wendy asked what we dream

1. When Wendy Asked What We Dream When Wendy asked what we dream, I wanted to say war and drowning. Not drowning exactly, but the moment when the choice is made to drown or not drown, before the mouth opens. Instead I said I never dream of cats. But that night I remembered the cats I dreamed in New York: I’d been in a dark room sleeping, and a black cat appeared. I had wanted the cat to like me, feeling that if I were liked, chosen by children or animals, it made me popular and good in an invisible way. I had called to the cat, a male, in a soothing way. A man who had stood in the doorway imitated the cat, the way the cat would talk to me, in…

7 min.
five poems

You in Palazzo Pants You agreed to meet him in one of those cafés you imagined yourself writing in if you could afford to live in that city. He was also a writer, but older, and you wanted to know how to get published. Slip a picture of yourself in with your poems, he advised, as in toss your shiny coin into the fountain—heads or tails—before it tarnishes. You didn’t tell him of the internship you once had, in which the only thing that stood between the slush pile and the top editor was you in palazzo pants. And that the top editor, your boss, was a tall, ash-blonde woman who thought your post-it notes on manuscripts hilarious. You didn’t tell him this because you have only thought of it now,…

4 min.
two poems

Unreported Incidents Ray spit in my hand. Motor oilleafed on still water and he spoke over mesaying I waver when I issue commands.He kicked the drowned cat to shower mewith its pocket of brown lake.Said I wasn’t worth the fuss I madeshowing the boys their loneliness in the countrywhere trucks sink to boneunder the blue sound of electricity.Ray invented the game chop stick snakewith two branches he tosseda rattler at the back of my legs.Eventually he decided it wasn’t his job to help me.A circle of drunk men, burningillegally. Their faces sockets of cracked light.He laughed, go on. Tell themto call it a night. My hands were behindmy back when I asked, could you please.I turned to Ray. He smiled, reversed awayas one man crushed a cananother draped his wet arm…

9 min.
on language and mourning

I don’t remember how to say home/in my first language, or lonely, or light—Kaveh Akbar Two months before my grandfather died, he asked me to read him a poem of mine. We were at Summa Hospital. In some room. I did not want to read him a poem—because my grandfather was well read. Because he loved poetry. Because, as a child, he did not like me all the time. Because I would interrupt his reading with my play. Because my Arabic was clumsy—Americanized—and I wanted to communicate with him, I did, but felt that I couldn’t because he insisted that I speak Arabic. Because trying to speak to him in Arabic was difficult—I’d forget words I needed to convey a certain meaning and when I’d reach for those words, they wouldn’t…

3 min.
three poems

Grizzly She grazes in a meadow, sulphur blossoms spillingfrom her jaw.At this moment she seems so calm, she could be holyif what that means is something like beingwholly unaware of the good she gives,how even her rooting tills the soiland even her shitting ferries the seedsand even her bathing is a joy to beholdas I am beholding her this morningas she leans over a water hole, her shadow firstand then her reflection on the skin of the water,and then the splash as she enters, the pond opening,rippling, and the scritch as she scrubsher head with her paw, the great planetof her head that she dunks and raises, shakingthe water in wide arcs, droplets sprayingthe lens of the hidden camera. And nowshe climbs out, water rivering off her fur.And now she is…

4 min.
two poems

To the Chicken Truck “So what do you do?”For the years I drove you,I liked that question; I was 23;the lives of the poets I likedcontained things like automotiveplants, box factories, donuts,pet crematoria, national forestoutposts. Kenneth Koch, alumnusof Walnut Hills High Schoolin Cincinnati, OH—fought in WWII.You were not quite WWIIas far as an experiencebut I put you in my first biolike a tooth under a pillowyou and the city in which I drove youpositive you’d be replacedbefore too long with books.An Isuzu LCF (Low Cab Forward)with a 20-foot boxand a reefer, the first timeI saw you it was on Barrow St.at Washington you were whiteas a whiteboard you were glossyand inviting and because you slepton the streets of Manhattantwo blocks from the Hudsonhooligans welcomed youto the big city (it was 2003)with…