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How Hard Is It to Write a Love Song?

By Sholeh Wolpé

Last night a sparrow flew into my house,
crashed against the skylight and died:
I want to write a love song.

Poppy seed cake on china plate,
tea like auburn gold, the New York Times
open on the table, black with news,
and the man I still love with me.

The newspaper says in Conakry a man is
sticking his Kalashnikov into a woman. Now
he’s pulling the trigger.

Hummingbirds zip through the garden.
My lover slowly rocks in the hammock,
a spy novel on his stomach. 

I flip a page and a Nigerian soldier
shoots a man because he’s parked badly,
and takes the dead man’s hat.

The bougainvillea has burst into pinks and reds,
the colors of Kabul’s sidewalks after a suicide attack.
The child next door squeals with laughter.

How hard is it to write a love song?
A little in-the-moment swim,
a bit of Bach—perhaps.

Added: Friday, March 11, 2016  /  From "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here" (PM Press, 2012). Used with permission.
Sholeh Wolpé

Sholeh Wolpé is the author of Rooftops of Tehran, The Scar Saloon, and Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad for which she was awarded the Lois Roth Translation Prize in 2010. Sholeh is the associate editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East edited by Reza Aslan (Norton), the guest editor of Atlanta Review (2010 Iran issue) and the poetry editor of the Levantine Review, an online journal about the Middle East. Her poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of literary journals, periodicals and anthologies worldwide, and have been translated into several languages. Sholeh was born in Iran and presently lives in Los Angeles. Wolpé appeared on the panel We Are All Iran: a Group Reading by Iranian-American Poets during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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