One Poem by Sholeh Wolpé

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How Hard is It to Write a Love Song

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.




Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran, and spent most of her teen years in Trinidad and the UK before settling in the United States. She is a recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim Award, 2013 Midwest Book Award, and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize. Her eight publications include three collections of poetry, three anthologies, and two books of translations. This poem is from her latest collection, Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths. Visit her website at

Photo credit: sightmybyblinded via photopin cc. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.