Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The clouds are electric around Ararat.
Some of the dead burn fissures in the sky.

When I look at Masis, I see Noah’s ark
empty and forlorn, broken by the flood.

The ark could not help the unicorn
which fled and drowned in the flood.

Was God envious of my father’s people?
He forced them to die together.

The stars of the universe aren’t all diamonds.
Some burn us as they fall.

Sun and moon have their way with them,
companions in Turkish crime.

The caravan of urchins staggers through sand,
dust and stones photographing the faces.

For me, the past plays over and over.
Dust collects in dunes, and scars are plagues.

Do you think I am talking only of his life?
It is I who am now at an abyss.

I tell you the plain truth about them
so their eternity may touch my lips.

The Armenian ploughed fields and fertilized the mind
while the Turk sharpened his dagger and wound his bow.

The orphaned children are alive with instinct.
They play in bewildered shadows.

At night they remember their mothers’ gentle breath.
This is when love cries out with special yearning.

In Istanbul, a stock of bronze Ataturks.
A plethora of petrifying memorabilia.

What spirit is found in these places of slaughter?
A new Adam learning to begin again.

Is re-creating a nightmare imagination’s blasphemy?
The brutality of facts cannot go into darkness silently.

When winter winds roared like Stentor, peasants burrowed underground.
The difficult country brought them closer to hell.

Such cold makes for great legends.
A cat froze in the act of running.

We can all be part of someone else’s story.
Armenians were forced to do so, deprived of meaning.

The hours fell like dead flies.
The shuddering sky unnerved them.

In the solitude of sleep, horrors multiply.
With torn and swelling feet, they remember everything.

These words are a supplement to what my father remembers.
These words are a supplement to myself.

Dreams are a strange language created on Ararat,
far above the poppies, then blown into sleep.

Violence of sore feet and dry throats keeps happening over and over,
so is the repentance for minor sins that brought on the violence.

Scavenger dogs sink sharp teeth into the dying,
their impartiality the mania of sadistic killers.

Sometimes we feel guilty for deserting our hate,
so should we leave the dead and care for the living?

“What is the fault of children?” a grandmother asks,
her lament resounding from Harput to Syria.

An iron fist, a rapacious dagger, and a bullet respond.
Her voice vanishes like thin mist.

They are forced into widening circles on naked feet,
the hot sand pretending they are close to home.

Thin hands holding tickets in a boxcar for a return journey
never made. Human wreckage on wheels.

Commissars of falsehood! Your denials are desperate.
We shall complete our stories and our mourning.

Are you free, then, Talaat, free of everything
but your cruelty and Armenian ghosts?

And you, Enver, child-killer, scum hero,
are you buried with a harem of virgins?

Jemal completes the murderous trinity.
What new atrocity are you planning from Hell?

Peasants, bureaucrats, and ministers, shrinking from truth,
explain the unforgivable to bribed sympathizers.

Your protests against Armenian tears
mock your pretensions of humanity.

Keith Garebian

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