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from Drapetomania

Read a selection of poems from Cynthia Parker-Ohene‘s new chapbook, the first in a series of samplers from Durham chapbook publishers.

Callimachus in Sicily

“the thing / that baffles travelers in Zanton / is that nobody who lives there is allowed / …to tell the whole story of how it came to be.” In Stephen Burt‘s poem, Callimachus tells the story of a town whose citizens will never “name / the founders of the town, / who kept it safe through subterfuge and shame.”

Two Poems

“I am an ugly boy but it’s a pretty / day everywhere hard blue snow and old / men arguing.” Two new poems from Kaveh Akbar careen toward beauty, salvation, and self-destruction.

Attitudes at the New Year

“Pieces of righteousness look like a river of baroque pearls with mean, red, pre-digital eyes. ” Kathleen Ossip looks ahead and gathers her “ragged power,” trying for some way to do better this time.

from island of no birdsong

“i want to believe / in the resurrection / of the body because / i have no memories / of birdsong.” In a new poem from Craig Santos Perez, documentary and lyric overlap in the destruction of both avian life and human culture on Guam.

The Devouring

“[H}e has outlived // everything but the taste / of his sons’ hair when gently / he kisses them incessantly // at the altar of their sleep.” In a new poem from Adam Tavel, Goya’s savage image of Saturn inhales decades of violence.

Four Poems

“I must learn / the language of rain / to speak to plants.” A handful of new poems from Tyree Daye summon the dead and the living, family and prayer. “If there is something perfect in life,” he writes, “let it come now.”

Elegy for the Routine

“His voice unzips / the few words he has formed // for this purpose, what he says / of coming apart.” The insidious dementia of a father fractures, assembles, retrieves, and unties in a new poem from Lauren Camp.

There Was and How Much There Was

“The walls don’t have ears here. / Everybody is a woman here.” Zeina Hashem Beck weaves the conversations of women at a party into a world of song.


“When time breaks you can feel it in your body at noon when half the day is done and again at 3 pm when you are going home.” Page Hill Starzinger’s poem of her parents’ decline tries to restore the house they can no longer keep. “No, my father said, don’t do that, it’s not a good house.”