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Art History

a fresh new poem by Kirun Kapur

Art History

Kirun Kapur


Leviticus 19:34: But the stranger that dwelleth with you…thou shalt love him as thyself.

I’d even smoke the angels,
that’s what he liked to say,
checking his face in the mirror, shining
up his gun. He isn’t well, his wife
explained, on the strip of grass
our houses faced. I watched the tremor
in her lip, her fingers uncurling from fists.

Hey, Rosy Girl, he’d call, when I passed by.
Hey, Nipples. I stood still
while my mouth gaped on
those golden words
I’d seen fly from the face
of every angel, delivering God’s news.

He stood with the garage door up.
Two chairs. The toolbox, where he kept
the gun, served as a table top. My home
away from home
. He laughed,
came toward me with a wad of ones,
For beer and smokes. Go down the block,
unless you want to come on in. Miss Nipples.
I realized he was handsome, then
felt air burn in my chest.

Later, in a hotel bed, I watched the burning
tip of my lit cigarette and thought of him.
I’d learned the faces of the angels, painted
into walls. Their mouths, their errands,
how each mission ends: a heap of salt,
a hat of thorns, pure spirit with no body—
not women and not men. I’d heard
he burned the house down, smoking
in his bed. His wife had left
and I’d, of course, moved on by then.




Kirun Kapur is the winner of the Arts & Letters Rumi Prize in Poetry and the Antivenom Poetry Prize for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi's Palmist. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, FIELD, Massachusetts Review, The Christian Science Monitor and many other journals. She has taught creative writing at Boston University and has been awarded fellowships from The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell Colony. She is the founder and co-director of the Boston-area arts program The Tannery Series and serves as Poetry Editor at The Drum Literary Magazine, which publishes exclusively in audio form.  Kapur grew up in Hawaii and lives north of Boston.