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Poem: "Social Skills Training" By Solmaz Sharif

A new poem for BuzzFeed READER from Sharif's forthcoming collection Look.

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Studies suggest How may I help you officer? is the single most disarming thing to say and not What’s the problem? Studies suggest it’s best the help reply My pleasure and not No problem. Studies suggest it’s best not to mention problem in front of power even to say there is none. Gloria Steinem says women lose power as they age and yet the loudest voice in my head is my mother. Studies show the mother we have in mind isn’t the mother that exists. Mine says: What the fuck are you crying for? Studies show the baby monkey will pick the fake monkey with fake fur over the furless wire monkey with milk, without contest. Studies show to negate something is to think it anyway. I’m not sad. I’m not sad. Studies recommend regular expressions of gratitude and internal check-ins. Enough, the wire mother says. History is a kind of study. History says we forgave the executioner. Before we mopped the blood we asked: Lord Judge, have I executed well? Studies suggest yes. What the fuck are you crying for, officer? the wire mother teaches me to say, while studies suggest Solmaz, have you thanked your executioner today?


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Solmaz Sharif is the author of Look, published in 2016 by Graywolf Press. She has published poetry in the New Republic and Poetry, and has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.

Saeed Jones is executive editor, culture for BuzzFeed and the author of the poetry collection Prelude to Bruise, and is based in New York.

Contact Saeed Jones at saeed.jones@buzzfeed.com.

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