Monday Apr 22

KapurKirun Kirun Kapur is the winner of the Arts & Letters Rumi Prize in Poetry and the Antivenom Poetry Award for her first book,  Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist (Elixir Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, FIELD, Prairie Schooner, The Christian Science Monitor and many other journals. She has taught creative writing at Boston University and at Brandeis University and is currently a visiting writer at Amherst College.  Kapur has been awarded fellowships from The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell Colony. She is the director of the New England arts program, The Tannery Series, and serves as Poetry Editor at The Drum Literary Magazine. She was recently named an “Asian-American poet to watch” by NBC news. Kapur grew up in Honolulu and now lives north of Boston.

The Jay

Blue from blue—sky threw you down.
You tear away, rage, swoop.

Accused: a naked hatchling eater,
though studies prove only 1% of you

are feathered cannibals of the nest.
Once, I saw your cobalt wing

in the backyard’s grass, divine debris
torn in an air-borne gladiator’s match.

Blue Lucifer, lewd mime, shrewd
enough to imitate a hawk, dog, neighbor

shrieking, No! Fuck no! You won’t be driven out
by winter. I watch you facing off

with crows, streaking over the rose bush
like a lapis missile. I want to say

what your whole body seems to say:
I have a right to what sustains me.

Game to take on naysayers, braggart
squirrels, the stalking cat. You dive-bomb

anything you fear. All flash and swagger,
my criminal of the flower bed.

On Being Asked Why I’d Write About A Thing Like That

Because he taught me mice are as deserving of this cheese as I am

Because we eat our rice with cinnamon sticks

Because her mind was strict and her heart was easy

Because I have to be pried open like a tiger trap

Because a grown man he cries in his sleep

Because we laugh so hard at the table

Because hibiscus because whisky and tea

Because a person can be doused in kerosene

Because cockroaches bob around the room like blimps

Because English tastes like chewing peppercorns

Because nostalgia can seize me with malarial shakes

Because I believe in what’s written and rewritten

Because I bury the lacy skeletons of mice

Anniversary with Birds (and You)


Bodies buzzing like a traffic jam:
a want motor, musical

pacemaker. Tick-tock. Melody
machine with bones

I can crush with my hand.
Your hands are slow. We watch

the first birds twine the air
together. Sixty feathered frames

flexed in a constellation—then,
a shift so swift we lose our breath

and have to hold each other
through the mess of song.


How a wing might shred, so thin the cartilage,
curved ribs—the body

a parenthesis around the air.
No, it isn’t air the body frames,

it’s breath. One lung-full of sky held separate
from the rest and then released—to air again.

We float and dive, no more than trinkets
spiraling miles above the valley floor.

You press your forehead against mine.
Our flight depends on separateness.

I slip from the bed, taking my lung of sky,
leave you tangled up in trilling birds and light.


I’m thinking of a columbarium. Aviary
full of color and flash, also roost

of the dead, house of ash.
Plato wrote of wanting a pigeon

and grasping a dove instead.
When you reached into the cage

of possibilities, it was me
you freed from the feathery mass, me

you cradled in the large vise
of your hand.


I stand at the sink. The highway
miles below translates itself

into a steady hum of other human presences.
How fast away, how fast home?

What has trucked the birds down from the sky?
Now that the sun is high, no sign of them,

though here and there I note a bush
that shakes with life. We’ll eat. We’ll sleep

beside each other like a couple in a single tomb.
I’ve read that birds have hollow bones,

carry the element through which they fly
inside themselves. I’ve always wanted to fly,

no cote, no branch, no coming back—
though inside my bones is flesh, marrying me

to our marrow bed.