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new days, old crimes

after Kaveh Akbar

The word for world is forest yet all I

see is plundered earth in a bid to have

humanity people it. Green is has-been,

giving ground every day, retreating in so-

rrow. Litany of missteps, we are careless 

in our transient custody, possessive with

our gift to posterity. The scales shift, the

(in)human acts pile together. Soon words

fall short, slipping through my fingers as I

grow restless: the earth remembers. Already

it quickens, a swan song to all that we have.


1. This poem is an example of the Golden Shovel form, created by Terrance Hayes. The last word of every line comes together as a sentence or line usually taken from another poem (see below).

2. “I have been so careless with the words I already have.” Akbar, Kaveh. “Do You Speak Persian?” Calling a Wolf a Wolf. Penguin Books, 2017.

broken idols 

god is a moan at the back of my throat 

it refuses to die in spite of all that i do 

the blessed blood of divinity is thicker 

than these murky waters of your womb 

the mouth that bestowed gentle kisses 

is also the mouth quick to offer abuse

tendered at the altar of an uncaring deity 

even if the toll is kin-ly sacrificial blood 

light of your life become demon child 

for errant dismissal of the man on high 

it’s a serpent coiled, eating me up inside 

this measured affection i cannot abide 

i wear my faith as a brand on my chest

concealing apostasy behind steady face

ensnared i am in webs of maternal love 

the doubts remain secret but never go 

do not make pure obeisance a premise 

for the bestowal of your stingy regard 

it hurts too much to return to the fold 

but i fear dying, hopeless and on my own 

grant me reprieve, maker of my bones 

cut this parasite from out of our lives 

i request no saviour for the long night 

happy to subsist on good graces alone 

don’t hold me hostage, wretched i cry 

to the canvas of your undisputed lies

i only wish to live always by your side 

without feeble tears shining in my eyes

Areeb Ahmad is an Editor-at-Large at Asymptote and a Books Editor at Inklette Magazine. He likes to write about the intersections of gender and sexuality across texts. They enjoy exploring how the personal and the political as well as form and content interact in art. Most of his writing can be found on his bookstagram, a true labour of love. Their work has appeared in The Chakkar, Scroll, The Federal, Hindustan Times, and elsewhere.

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