“Death is a Festival” by Anis Shivani


Presidents, naps, and a thick witney coat,
being cheated with false money in a message
or the conclusion of a letter. The aristocracy
dare not ask professors to dinner at the

time of their breeding, which is a wipe in
the eye. You saw nothing but a field or two
of great ice-crystals, the whish of a rocket.

What place is this? What a place is this?
The Weil-Felix reaction, almost utter weight-
lessness with small initials, two scales for
measuring general intelligence, graceful

error. Even dollars or calico, dead child,
why did you not tell me in the beauty shop?


These last few hundred deaths when visibility
is zero-zero. Watch for word of new budget
cuts. Vapor baths and inner closets, an
excited Taiwanese photographer puts on

the zipper jacket and goes out, zip codes
and automatic telephone dialing, the plain
apron front, the peasantry from Abruzzo,
Calabria, and Apulia: it is good to see no

less than two sets of zampognas. Which has
a cotton wrap, unlike some symbolist writers,
which is a crack in the boards, the famous
cloves. He was a man with a catapult. On

November 15 I circulated an address, there
was not a speck of cloud from east to west.


The yokel, being a yokel, the moon’s glare—
in the midst of supranational poetry events,
I find myself involuntarily imagining the
white cottage yonder. Sit down you there

at the door. We might both by modern stan-
dards be deemed old-fashioned, riding along
parallel but disconnected branches of one
gigantic universal death function, the sunny

coloring of the young leaves, a remnant of
our younger days. It is a long time since I
left her and went to serve a lady of fashion.
There was a native innocence in the New

York of both sexes, not more than painting
expresses—did you get my yesterday’s note?

Anisjacketphoto4Anis Shivani’s books published in the last year have included Whatever Speaks on Behalf of Hashish: Poems and Soraya: Sonnets. His next book of criticism, Literary Writing in the Twenty-First Century: Conversations, comes out early next year. New work appears in the Yale Review, Georgia Review, Third Coast, Gulf Coast, Subtropics, New Letters, Black Warrior Review, Western Humanities Review, Iowa Review, Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, Denver Quarterly, and other journals.