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Waiting for the Twelfth

Kaveh AkbarKaveh Akbar June 16, 2020
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In Shia Islam, the Twelfth Imam is said to have disappeared in the ninth century. It’s believed his return at the end of the world will deliver order from the chaos.

no one ever brings up the wages

of virtue    the cost of avoiding


that which you were built

to do     some men actually love


their enemies      remind me to tell you

about them when you arrive and


when will that be again?      I’ve already

spiced the duck and hidden


the sherry      even grain has

genes that say drink this or bend


there so much like our

own     I am rubbing yogurt


through my hair getting ready

for your return     I read old


mail from my bababazorg

the Farsi like tea leaves


or exotic blades     years

ago he melted into the tautness


of earth like a pad of butter on

turtle meat      the birch


curled its tongue     I was full of

credible fears     today I’m full


of olives and smoke      sucking

a fat red cigar and ashing on


the good lace      I’m comfy

as a snake sleeping in


a silk shoe though my glasses

are foggy or maybe I just got


perfume in my eye      either

way I’ll recognize you


by your heartbeat you’ll

recognize me by the green


bird in my shirt pocket      if you

hurry I’ll let you hold


her      her flightlessness

will mean nothing in fact


my whole house has been

cleansed entirely of


symbols      a strange

call came from the west


and I understood it in

this new language      I burnt


away my candles and woke the

sleeping spider resting his fangs


against my hand      there will be

nothing here to distract you


from your work      just

some old pears


browning in the kitchen

and a glass vase


of pink roses

humming their little songs

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