The following is a brief sampling of some of my favorite lines from Kaveh Akbar's "Calling a Wolf a Wolf," (Alice James Books, 2017). These are the moments in the collection that have been looping in my head like a stuck cassette, the fanged phrases that have stuck deepest in my flesh.
"All I want is to finally/ take off my cowboy hat and show you my jeweled/ horns. If we slow dance I will ask you not to tug/ on them but secretly I will want that very much."
"I've given this coldness many/ names thinking if it had a name it would have a solution thinking if I called a wolf a wolf I/ might dull its fangs"
"I dump my ashtray into a bucket of paint and coat myself/ in the gray slick, rolling around on the carpets of rich strangers/ while they applaud and sip their scotch."
"As a boy, I spit a peach pit onto my father's prayer rug and immediately/ it turned into a locust."
"It's exhausting, remaining/ humble amidst the vicissitudes of fortune."
"At parties 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."
"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."
"I wish you were here so I could bend a mirror/ around your face, pour you back into you."
"under gold/ light my/ hands look/ gold I/ long to/ be aes-/ theti-/ cized/ to have/ my bones/ laced with/ silver/ my eyes/ blooming/ into/ marguerites"
"I have forgotten even/ the easy prayer I was supposed to use/ in emergencies something something I was not/ born here I was not born here I was not"
"Orchids are sprouting from the floorboards./ Orchids are gushing out from the faucets./ The cat mews orchids from his mouth./ His whiskers are also orchids./ The grass is sprouting orchids./ It is becoming mostly orchids."
"there is a pond I leapt into once/ with a lonely blonde boy when we scampered out one of us/ was in love"
"eventually/ even scorched earth goes green though beneath it/ the dead might still luxuriate in their rage"
"it's true I suppose you grow to love the creatures you create/ some of them come out with pupils swirling others with teeth"
"You just don't know yet which parts/ of yourself to value–/ your spittle or its syrupy smell,/ your irises or their mothish/ obsession/ with light."