for Garabed

The last number is the first
and the curve in the straight line
is only a river that runs from a desert

I would name that river
but by nature it leads to the sea
I would enter from the backside of the mountain
and look at the city of Palu
to watch it operate

Multicolored scarves and vegetable markets
where the dee/eyed Armenians close
over a day’s work
Streets with dancing to invisible music

Below the shadow of the mountain
stone arches crown the river Euphrates
It is the beginning of time

I have not yet been born

I am 90 and die
on a hospital bed in America
My teeth gone/bones for skin

I cannot see
I speak with my organs
They know me well
Many shadows come to my bed
I smell each with my fingers

Have I come so far
that silence is my fate?
Have I encouraged history so much
I listen only with instinct?

The quiet feet of questions
tend the growing and the young
The anxious eyes and dreams
prepare the tradition
Whatever buried returns
and comes again

Knee deep in the river
the words are read
and revealed
I become the future



Words bring no satisfaction
to a kingdom where space
has forgotten its name and season.
My fingers stick on the smoky windows
of a tired sky. The doors to each city
tighten their mouths into a zero.

I speak two languages:
one is the language of the stomach,
a vacant room that laments
in public like a tarnished statue.
The second sings the invisible poetry
of the homeland. Finally, I find
myself like a spider: content
with the darkness of corners.

I dream of wild, sweet fields
where stars twist into the milky dust of the cosmos,
and my poems lift like seeds
from the aprons of Armenian women,
pushing home; their hands red with dark earth.



Yettem , California

Further up the passage small fires
Blink with the distance of stars
The horses wide-eyed and still
Make no conversation

The old men with stories of animals
Nod with children in their laps
Young men spin wheels of fortune
And come to bed last with eyes open

The women temper over the river
The heat of an absent bed
And packing for early rise
Undressing lengths of hair
Speak under lips
With curled tongues

Half and half the moon rises yellow
Over the milky haze of many lights
And streets of the market
Seven pockets of gold
Wait like the sun to rise

After midnight the only watchmen are the old
Who keep silent stories among themselves
With the motion of sleep, never sleep
Eyes with the gestures of an owl
Branch the oak
So calmly webbed their shadows seem invisible
The quick journey below

“Come,” said the Reaper,
“My hands are cold
And the world is still.”



It’s Christmas. The sky
thick with snow, and house
along the streets begin to darken
quickly against the landscape.

The glassed windows are packed
with snow, and only a few shadows
escape from the inside. There are
these moments of silence

which lock people to one
another; and I , alone
with a friend, speak of things
my father said yesterday.