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Published: Mon Oct 7 2019
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California

All hail the noggin with the diadem!
All hail they who may some day
be snipped or snapped
off at the stem.
For though they be fodder in
training, wouldn’t you, even
with slaughter a credible wrinkle,
if given the shot,
the one-time door knock,
to glide down the gangways of
censers and wobbly miters,
the tremble-
hand candles, oh,
wouldn’t you, just,
so lost among organs and trumpets
and silver-thread-
embroidered orchids
with no born-to-it
heretofore glimmer or sense
of noblesse,
wouldn’t you, trusting,
alone, slip on
the welterweight topper
and sing swank as an opera
from the buttery
lamplights of Moscow to Rome?

Hailey Leithauser is the author of two poetry collections: Saint Worm (Able Muse Press, 2019) and Swoop (Graywolf Press, 2013), which won the Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award and the Towson Prize for Literature. She has recent or forthcoming work in The Birmingham Poetry Review, 32 Poems, Cincinnati Review, The Hopkins Review, Plume, Poet Lore, AGNI, Alaska Quarterly Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, and The Yale Review. She lives outside of Washington, DC, and teaches occasionally at the Bethesda Writer’s Center and the West Chester Poetry Conference. (updated 4/2022)

Leithauser’s AGNI poem “The Moon Speaks of Polar Bears” was chosen for The Best New Poets 2010.

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