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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
Photo by Bonnie Perkinson

Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet, writer and playwright. About Wolpé ’s latest collection of poems, Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths, Shelf Awareness Magazine writes, “A gifted Iranian-American poet beautifully explores love and the loss of love, beauty and war and the ghosts of the past.” Wolpé’s modern translation of The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton, 2017) by the 12th century Iranian mystic poet, Attar has been hailed by Reza Aslan as a translation that “is sure to be as timeless as the masterpiece itself.”  The inaugural 2018 Writer-in-Residence at UCLA, Wolpé is the recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award and2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize. Wolpé ’s literary work includes five collections of poetry, three plays, four books of translations, and three anthologies. Wolpé ’s writings have been translated into many languages and included in numerous American and international anthologies and journals of poetry and fiction. She has lived in the UK and Trinidadand is presentlybased in Los Angeles. More information:

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