Home > Poetry > How to Curse a Demon
Published: Mon Jun 27 2022
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Online 2022 Violence Mysteries Politics
How to Curse a Demon

Slop some sugar on
it, slip some lucre
to it, whisper sweeter
and more cheaply
nothings, gather deeper,
dobbered gossip,
whistle frailly
while you still it, be
for once its silky
mama, muted
sense it snow-like,
doe-like in faint twilight,
stroke and stroke
and strike it silly,
brush its hair until
it glitters, shine
its scales until they
wither, bring
a bubble to its
bursting and the prayer
to its answer, fling
the dagger to its
anger, hold a candle
higher to it, be the
lost swan in
its last totemic
song, the thin pin-
head its scanty
dance upon.

Online 2019 Mysteries Politics Spirituality
Our Defeat
AGNI 91 Politics Relationships Violence
Burying Them
AGNI 51 Politics Reading Violence

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. Her work has appeared 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. (updated 4/2023)

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

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