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The wildly imaginative poems in this new collection, the latest in the McSweeney’s Poetry Series, bring to life a speaker struggling to find a balance between familial pressure and personal identity, religious faith and a recognition of the world’s calamities. An Iraqi Jewish American and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Daniel Khalastchi’s much-anticipated follow-up to his award-winning debut is a surreal cri de coeur—a darkly humorous wonderland too fantastical and fresh to be doubted.

Praised by Rae Armantrout as a “dream-gym” in which “desire, doubt, and abjection (those old favorites) get a workout,” Tradition is available for purchase now, and we are pleased to share a selection from its pages below.

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Hormone Elevation Sonnet
(Originally appeared in Court Green)

You wake me up saying, hurry, hurry, grab the

chainsaw. I don’t think we

have a chainsaw, but you point

to the corner where I usually keep

my salon-quality hair loss treatment and I

follow you, back-bent through the stair-

well, revving steel teeth against a full-set night. When

we get to a gas station, you ask

for some money and tell me that

whenever the moon is so

low and in focus you feel like a Chinese

war prisoner pulling live

mice through a collapsing

urinal hole. In my pockets, I don’t

have any money. I try to

apologize but you just sit on the

curb listing all the better sexual

experiences you’ve had until I realize, finally,

what the chainsaw

is for. A few minutes

later, I bring you a bag of cash, three wet

cartons of cigarettes, and a thick black

T-shirt with a fanged howling wolf

ironed on in profile. With all the

commotion, I say, I never got to check the size. It’s

okay, you respond. Sometimes my

breasts remind you of terriers. These

are the things we can sell to the sheriff.

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You can purchase Tradition here.