Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Melissa King: An interview with sisters

The younger’s fidgeting embarrassed the older,
the “good Armenian daughter” in her UCLA sweatshirt,
modest ponytail and disguised eyes.
The dirty orange chili fries were meant to distract us,
give the younger sister something to do
with her paint-flecked, swaying hands
which flung her emotions all across the sticky table
into the ice-cold, air conditioned atmosphere where
it twisted into an apricot thunderstorm
catching us up in it so I couldn’t breathe,
causing her sister to cry tiny tears and whisper
“I can say nothing.”

They were shifty, textured mirrors of one another,
energies moving in tandem,
and private broken windows
into different experiences of survivorship
that only they could look through,
sharing desire across the borders of Armenian-“ness,”
their way of protecting self and sister
from angry alcoholic rants,
sleeping in a cold car out of frustration,
or collapsing, a sudden wild breath
of memory, loneliness, a death in the family,
tortured at not remembering how to play chess,
too intimate to talk about
but so loud the thunder and lightening: “When
is it going to be enough?”

I can say nothing.

Copyright 2016, Melissa King

Monday, May 30, 2016

Melissa King: Akhtamar Effect

Copper, warm, and silent on the wall,
Akhtamar stares east and I write
my academic body, 
thinking of her desperate desire for the other 
that she’s taken as a bridge, and the power
of time travel. 

She looks different here at home, 
frail and insecure with slim hips
not like by the black lake there
where she towers a Soviet warrior woman
over the forested shore and highway,
hands together above her head, looming,
ready to dive, fly in an arc over us
with our raisin buns at a red picnic table,
splash into that wormhole to save 
what remnants are left and bring 
back what was lost and drowned
in forgetfulness, remembrance, and the silences
of so many similar words over and over,
point the way to intimate communion, 
but she still doesn’t, waiting
like she has all these hundreds of years 
obedient and frustrated.
I understand that part.

When I remember the activists’ chant,
I rethink Akhtamar’s mythic patience, 
the waiting and watchfulness of a survivor 
for the crane of justice to hoist it all out of the water.
I raise my hands together over my head, 
in my dining room, where I write, 
My toes grasp sandy rocks under the table. 
I sense her tension 
and put her body into my words.

Copyright 2016, Melissa King

Melissa King is Faculty Chair of the Anthropology Department at San Bernardino Valley College in San Bernardino, California. Her anthropological research has concerned memory of genocide within Armenian American youth activisms in the Los Angeles area. She received her doctorate from University of California, Riverside, in 2013, and has both published and presented her ideas through such organizations as the American Anthropological Association. She has previously published poetry in Anthropology and Humanism

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Անդրանիկ Ծառուկեան։ Ուխտ Արարատին

Պիտի հասնինք, սրբազան լեռ, կատարիդ,
Երբ ջրհեղեղը ռումբերուն գտնէ վերջ,
Ու արիւնի ծովերն հագնին ծիածան...
Երբ մորթուած խաղաղութեան աղաւնին Վերադառնայ արհաւիրքի վիհերէն՝
Ձիթենիի հաշտարար ճիւղը բերնին,- Պիտի հասնի՛նք կատարիդ...

Քաղաքներէն, ճամբաներէն, դաշտերէն,
Աքսորի խուլ գռիհներուն խորերէն,
Պիտի շարքերը մեր խրոխտ փոթորկին
Մեր պապերուն խնդիր սուրբ երազին...
Պիտի փշրին մեզ իրարմէ անջատող Ճակատագրին սեւ պատնէշները բոլոր,
Պիտի հասնինք՝ մեր ջուրերուն ու հողին՝
Ամենասուրբ ըրած կարօտը շեփոր,
Պիտի հասնինք, թէ արեւներն իսկ փլին,
Եւ ճամբաներն ըլլան դժոխք ու արիւն,-
Պիտի հասնի՛նք կատարիդ...

Տե՛ս մեր շարքերը խանդաբորբ ու արի,
Տե՛ս մեր կարօտը՝ խոյանքով Վահագնի,
Տե՛ս մեր հոգին՝ քու ձեռքերուդ պէս մաքուր,
Ու կամքը մեր, տե՛ս, ժայռերուդ պէս ամուր,
Եւ հաւատա՛, գրանիտեայ ո՜վ աստուած,
Սրբազան լեռ, հաւատա՛,
Որ կը հասնի՛նք, մենք կը հասնի՛նք կատարիդ...

A Vow to Ararat

We will reach your summit, oh Holy One,
When the flood of bombs desists,
And the seas of blood are draped in rainbows.
When the butchered dove of peace
Returns from the abyss of distress
With the olive branch of amity in its beak,
We shall make it to the mountaintop…

From the cities, the streets, and the fields,
From the depths of the blind alleys of exile
Our people shall gallantly storm
And make our forebears’ dream a fact,
And the black walls of fate, which separate us
Shall disintegrate.

We will reach our waters and lands,
Trumpeting our Holy-of-Holies,
We shall reach, even if all stars crumbled
And all roads turned to blood and hell—
We will reach your summit…

Come, see our ranks flaming with fire and fervor,
See our yearning that soars on Vahagn’s* wings,
See our spirit, spotless as your hands,
See our will, solid as your stones,
And have faith, oh God of Granite,
Oh Holy Mountain, have faith—
We shall make it to the summit!

Antranig Dzarougian
Translated by Rupen Janbazian and Tatul Sonentz

* Vishapakagh Vahagn (Vahagn the Dragon Reaper) was a god of fire and war worshiped in pre-Christian era Armenia.

The following passages are taken from Antranig Dzarougian’s 1980 memoir, Ethereal Aleppo (Երազային Հալէպը). One of the foremost writers and editors in the Armenian Diaspora, Dzarougian lived and worked in the Armenian communities of Syria and Lebanon. Born in 1913 in the Ottoman town of Gurin (modern Gürün), Dzarougian was rescued during the massacres and brought to Aleppo, where he was raised in an Armenian orphanage. He is best known for a memoir about that period in his life, People without a Childhood (Մանկութիւն չունեցող մարդիկ), as well as for his long poem, Letter to Yerevan (Թուղթ առ Երեւան), and for the various pieces of prose and poetry published in Nayiri, the Aleppo-based, and later Beirut-based, literary journal that he founded and edited.-- Jennifer Manoukian, The Armenian Weekly

Friday, May 27, 2016

James Najarian: Kleptomania

Start simply. Thieve small.
And stay on the ball.
Take nothing that matters—
     lost screws, ticket stubs, French fries from platters.

Now steal something better:
a breath or a letter.
Then take someone’s time.
     Practice makes perfect, and the perfect crime.

Then swipe the covers,
(the names of old lovers
will give you some tips).
     Kisses for others you take on the lips.

Loot tongues for secrets—it’s
using your wits,
and occasions abound.
     Astounding what people leave lying around!

Why not go on?
Be a Pro of a Con—
filch a heart for a day.
     as soon as you’re done with it, throw it away—

or keep it for longer.
Your skills will get stronger.
Who’s keeping tabs?
     Everything, everyone, is up for grabs.

© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

James Najarian: The Dark Ages

For years, my mother shuttled from her garden
to the stove, from barn to sewing room to sons,
her life like an unopened work of history.
Then came the silences. Was she tired? Bored?
She hovered in her kitchen the whole day.
Skillets and glassware tumbled from her hands,
her face a cast of lead. Her garden shrank
to towering, weedy greens and wiry vines.
We did not plow it for the coming year.

Late Roman Britain had begun to turn
even before the soldiers were withdrawn.
With the seas unguarded, little was brought in.
Ale and lard replaced Rome’s wine and oil.
The towns dispersed, as townsfolk headed to
the countryside to try the earth. At first,
the city fathers decently tore down
deserted baths and temples. Villas crumbled.
Those who stayed grew barley in the ruins.

She had trouble walking, or rather starting
walking -- her feet seemed bolted to the ground,
the brain not ordering its provinces.
She spoke a rote “no, thank you”; rarely “yes.”
Her kingdom dwindled to a bed and toilet--
a quilt she planned still hanging from the wall,
bright calicoes once basted to white flannel,
seed-packets, knitting, quiet as offerings --
her life now archaeology around her.

Eventually, Rome took its army home.
With Rome went every skill. The coarse pots made
in native kilns, declined, then disappeared.
Foundries halted, and with them nails vanished.
The people foundered barefoot in the mud
as shoes could not be made--or coffins either.
The dead were thrown directly in the ground.
Silt clogged the cities’ sewers. Canterbury
dwindled to a pasture, York a marsh.

In daylight she may keen for hours, unaware.
All night she shrieks, but does not hear her sounds.
She grips a toy she’s had since she was small,
a drowsy chimpanzee whose eyelids close.
Nurses have put her in a safe low bed;
half-buried in her sheets, she is a baby
lost in a little boat. She knows my name,
but wails, and can’t say why. At times I can
make out a single word: “no, no, no, no.”

The towns and villages have emptied out.
We gather in our clans amid the dregs,
atop a hill-crest or a crumbled fort,
dwelling among the swine we kill each fall,
gorging because we cannot let them waste.
Our women scrounge for bits of bead and bronze.
They roast our gritty roots right in the fire,
or cook in cauldrons dug from ancient graves,

sepulchri: pots that once held human ashes.

James Najarian Wins 6th Annual Frost Farm Prize for Poetry

Reprinted from the Armenian Weekly

DERRY, N.H.—The Trustees of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, N.H., and the Hyla Brook Poets announced that the winner of the 6th Annual Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry is James Najarian of Auburndale, Mass., for his blank verse poem, “The Dark Ages.”

The prize was judged by David J. Rothman, Director of Western State Colorado University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. Najarian receives $1,000, and publication in The Evansville Review. He will also be a featured reader at the Hyla Brook Reading Series at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, on Fri., June 17, at 7 p.m. The reading kicks off the second annual Frost Farm Poetry Conference (June 17-19).
“‘The Dark Ages’ participates in what has become, over the last several decades, a recognizable sub-genre of the elegy, even if it is an elegy of death-in-life: the Alzheimer’s poem. This poem differs from all others on this theme I have ever read, however, in its successful use of an extended metaphor, in which the poet implicitly compares the mother’s loss of memory to the aftermath of the Roman departure from Britain. The poem’s six stanzas of blank verse, each nine lines long, alternate starkly between painfully clear-eyed description of the mother’s decline, and comparably evocative reimagining of the advent of ‘the dark ages,’ with the loss of wine and oil, the abandonment of towns, the vanishing of nails and so on,” said Rothman about Najarian’s poem, adding, “The result of such a strategy might have seemed predictable, but with an unsentimental eloquence and restraint that only make the unstated pain and loss that much more powerful, the poet never rhetorically asserts the connection between the alternating sections, but simply lets them stand and resonate with each other until the personal and the historical merge in ways that illuminate both. This is compelling, masterful work, not only technically adroit but also thematically fierce and focused, and emotionally profound: an intense yet also measured depiction of destruction and grief.”
Rothman went on, “With more than 600 entries, this year’s submissions to the Frost Farm Prize for Metrical Poetry presented a tremendous range of subjects, themes, tones, styles and techniques. After spending many hours with them, my overwhelming impression is that hundreds upon hundreds of poets continue to care about craft.”
Najarian grew up on a goat farm near Kempton, Pennsylvania. He teaches nineteenth-century poetry and prose at Boston College, where he directs the Ph.D. program in English and edits the scholarly journal Religion and the Arts. His poetry has been published in West BranchChristianity and LiteratureTar River Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, The Literary Imagination, and other journals. He also published a scholarly monograph, Victorian Keats, with Palgrave Macmillan. His manuscript of poems, An Introduction to the Devout Life, has made finalist several times at volume contests, and is seeking a publisher.

The judge read all 646 anonymous entries and, in addition to selecting the winner, chose six poems for special recognition as Finalists and Honorable Mentions:
“Julia Hungry” by Hannah Poston of Ann Arbor, Mich.
“The Chromatist” by Aaron Poochigian of New York, N.Y.
“Crush” by Brian Brodeur of Richmond, Ind.

Honorable Mentions
“Memento” by Catherine Chandler, Saint-Lazare, Quebec, Canada
“Black Impala” by Jon Volkmer of Telford, Pa.
“The Undersigned” by Aaron Poochigian of New York, N.Y.

About Frost Farm Poetry
Frost Farm Poetry’s mission is to support the writing and reading of poetry, especially metrical poetry. The Hyla Brook Poets started in 2008 as a monthly poetry workshop. In March 2009, the monthly Hyla Brook Reading Series launched with readings by emerging poets as well as luminaries such as Maxine Kumin, Sharon Olds and Richard Blanco. From there, the Frost Farm Poetry Prize for metrical poetry was introduced in 2010, with the Frost Farm Poetry Conference beginning in 2015.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Խոսրով Ասոյեան։ Բագին

Վանի կողերը


կ՛որոնեն կանչը



ամէն օր,

շողերուն հետ
շողերուն պէս
կը դողան,


«Տէ՛ր, ողորմեա՛…»
կը մուրան,


Խորանին վրայ

կողերը լքուած

բեռնաւոր կ՛ողբան,

Մաշտոցի Սուրբ

որոգայթին դէմ պայքարող,
բառերուն պէս
բառերուն հետ

կը պղծուին
կը կորսուին
ամէն օր,

էջերուն պէս

կը խախտին,

կը մերժուի

կը բոսորանայ

կը մթնի,

կը փշրուի


Խոսրով Ասոյեան, ԿԱՆՉԸ, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Դուռը կը բացուի
Ու դուրս կը ցայտէ հոտը.
Տարիներու ընդերքէն եկող, կեանք մը ամբողջ իր շալակին`
Կը զարնէ ու կը տապալէ զիս ակնթարթի մէջ,
Կարծես ըսելով. Ո՜չ. չես կրնար մոռնալ զիս։

Աչքս կը բանամ մշուշոտ հեռո՜ւն…
Մոմի լոյսին տակ, մանկութեան գիրկը։
Շուրջս ամբոխը աչքերը վեր յառած կը փսփսայ…
Աղօտ է լոյսը: Սարսուռ մը կը սահի ողնայարս ի վար,
Երբ համրաքայլ կը սկսիմ պտըտիլ։

Նոյն նստարանները.
Նո՜յն լուսամուտերը…
Նոյն հո՜տը…
Կը շնչեմ երկա՜ր… կը շնչեմ խորո՜ւնկ.
Գլխապտոյտը պատած է զիս։

Հո՜ն էր, որ ծունկի եկած էի, ձեռքերս զուգած.
Հո՜ն էր, որ մօրս գիրկէն փախուստ տուի ու վազեցի.
Հո՜ն էր, որ յօնքերը կիտած մամիկ մը յանդիմանեց զիս,
Ուրկէ՞ գտայ այդ փետուրը, որ նետեցի ծնկաչոք ծերունիին ոտքերուն,
Որ գլուխը կախ, լուռ կը մրմնջէր…

Ո՞վ էր զիս ներողը. օ՜հ զանգակը զարնող Հայրապետը…
Որքա՜ն բարձր կը թռչէր այդ զանգակը զարնելու համար։
Հո՜ն էր, այդ նստարանին վրայ, որ կը նստէր մեծ մայրս,
Շղարշը գլխուն, դէմքը կլոր, աչքերը ժպտուն…
Ապշած կը դիտէի բերանը. կզակը անընդհատ կը շարժէր…

Քայլերս մարմին առած` զիս հոս ու հոն կը նետեն.
Հօրս գիրկն եմ ահա, մոմ պիտի վառենք միասին…
Քիչ անդին, քով քովի սեղմ նստած ենք գոգնոցներով գոյնզգոյն.
Գրպանիս մէջ դարձեալ աւազ կայ։
«Առաւօտ լուսոյ, արեգակն արդար…»։։։։։։

Դուռը կը փակուի`
Կեանք մը ամբողջ խզելով ու տանելով հետը։
Հոտը կը մնայ…

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

One Hundred Plus Words

Three Armenian writers -- Alec Ekmekji, Alina Gharabegian and Shahé Mankerian --  have been composing in a small writing group together for years by borrowing inspiration from one another read their creative work composed in approximately one-hundred-word lyrical pieces. Many of these are interlinked--one writer's piece leaning interestingly on another's style, borrowing from his images, appropriating his words and phrases, reworking another's symbol, while his own are likewise borrowed and wrought anew.

Tuesday, May 17 at 7:30 PM
Abril Books
415 E Broadway, Ste 102, 
Glendale, California 91205

Monday, May 09, 2016

National Translation Month

The Armenian Poetry Project is a proud supporter of NTM, an organization established in 2012 which has a growing following and many translations already from the Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Latin, Arabic, Persian, and Italian. 

Please join us in supporting this worthy project which celebrates reading and writing in translation every September.

Lola Koundakjian
Curator and Producer of The Armenian Poetry Project

Friday, May 06, 2016

Dana Walrath: Sosi

Day 19, Gerger Mountain


Opening the seams each day
for the food sewn inside by Mama
brings us close to her.
The imagined wrists,
the hem,
the two sides that come together in front,
surrounding me like Mama’s arms.
The seams of the collar like her necklace,
filled with apricot flesh dried
and bitter nuts taken
from inside hard wrinkled pits
together on our roof
last summer.
I let the cracked wheat
from the hem
soften in my mouth
for hours
while we walk
and walk.
I never want to eat that last bite
from Mama.

Excerpt copyright © 2014 by Dana Walrath. Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Michael Minassian: Conversation in Connecticut

On this crisp fall afternoon, 
Jack swings the axe 
in one smooth motion,
splitting the logs one after another;
gazing out past the driveway
to the stand of bent white elms,
he pauses, then hands me the axe
as if he were asking me to write
a chapter in his latest novel.

“When I left Tehran,” he says, 
“the only thing my father said
was that we would talk again.” 

As I swing the axe down,
the loud thwack startles the crows
hiding among the elms, and I imagine
I can hear them talking in a low murmur
like smoke curling under a door.
Jack grunts and seems to dismiss 
the crows with a wave of his hand,
then fills his pipe, and lights it,
closing his eyes, and I wait for the end
of the story that I know will come,
and he says, “Of course, we never did.”

Later, we stack the wood into long piles
next to the back door, and I build a fire
in the stone fireplace in Jack’s study
while he clacks his ancient Remington
creating his father’s inner world: 
“Something has to burn,” he says, 
“if there is going to be light.”
and I picture the words flaring into flame
on the page like love annihilating loss
or black crows scattering against gun metal gray clouds
on their way to an ocean too vast to cross.

Originally published in The Aurorean, Fall/Winter 2013-14.

Recently relocated to San Antonio and Michael Minassian is adjusting to life as a Texan.  Some of his poems have appeared recently in such journals as The Broken PlateThe Comstock Review, Exit 7, Main Street Rag, and The Meadow.  Amsterdam Press published a chapbook of his poems entitled The Arboriculturist in 2010. His blog is http://www.michaelminassian.com 

Author's Note:  The Jack in this poem is based on my uncle, Jack Karapetian  (1925-1994), who wrote under the pen name of Hakob Karapents. Born in Tabriz, Iran, Jack was a prolific Armenian-American writer who wrote almost exclusively in Armenian. As a toddler, I followed Uncle Jack around the three-bedroom apartment in the Bronx and sat on his lap as he pounded away on his typewriter. In later years, he encouraged my writing and often read my poems and short stories, making comments and suggestions. After he retired and moved to Connecticut, we would  go for long walks and discuss the craft of writing. I still consider him my mentor and muse and have written a series of poems around him.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Shahé Mankerian: Where the Trees Have No Name

No one dared to climb the skeletal tree 
in the dead end alley. Its trunk without 
branches surrendered to bullet holes.

The drunk sniper spotted wayward 
children sprouting from bowing boughs. 
That's how Coconut Avo died.

He climbed the crying tree by Cinema 
Arax because he wanted to touch the halo 
on Miss Marilyn Monroe. Love forced

hefty hooligans to take miscalculated
risks in Beirut. We heard the crack first. 

Then the snap. Both the branch and Avo fell

instantly as if struck by lightning. The priest 
warned us, "The sniper shoots at drooping 
limbs and drifting children like lambs."

This poem appeared in Barzakh, an online literary journal.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Shahé Mankerian: Somerset

When Father read Maugham at the balcony, 
he didn't see the sheep blocking the traffic.

He was deaf to the screams of the taxi driver. 
When the shepherd boy banged his staff

on the hood of the Mercedes and cursed, 
May God cut your testicles, Father flipped

a page as if shooing a fly. A bearded militiaman, 
high on hashish, fired his Kalashnikov into the air.

Father sipped coffee. The sheep didn't move.
A stray bullet pierced a cawing raven. A tainted

feather found an open page, smeared words 
like clubfoot and bondage. Maugham required

a bookmark on Father's lap. 

This poem appeared in Barzakh, an online literary journal.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Tenth anniversary of the Armenian Poetry Project

The 10th anniversary of the Armenian Poetry Project is a GRAND FIESTA celebration, just prior to the announcement of winners of the sixth annual Arthur Halvajian Memorial poetry writing competition. We are grateful to our competition's sponsor, the Armenian Students' Association and its board members, and, our poetry judges.

To date, APP has received over 602,000 unique hits and 30,707audio downloads since its debut in May 2006. In addition to our readers, there are over  317 Feedburner, 110 Blogger, and 132 Twitter followers.

Readership, averaging 42% from Armenia, is from over 100 countries where the lonely and the curious reach out to poetry TM.

Heartfelt thanks:

To you, our Readers -- you make it all possible. Your constant encouragement motivates the authors, the translators and the teachers.

To Peter Balakian, James Baloian, Sarkis Vahaken, Jean Assadour, Alan Whitehorn, Arpine Konyalian Grenier, Diana Der-Hovanessian, Aram Ketenjian, Panos Jeranian and William Michaelian (HG!) who sent their books and notes.

To Aram Saroyan, Gregory Djanikian, Michael Casey, Sotère Torregian, Lorne Shirinian, Raffi Setian, Lory Bedikian of Poetry Matters, Nancy Kricorian, Esther Heboyan, Keith Garebian, Nora Nadjarian, Nancy Agabian of GARTAL, Jim Erkiletian, Michael Akillian, Mark Gavoor, Garo Armenian and other contemporary authors for their permission to post their poems.

To Dr. Levon Avdoyan, at Library of Congress, for his assistance in researching books,
To Prof. Theo M Van Lint for his scholarship and help in acquiring texts,
To Nvair Kadian Beylerian for the use of her grandfather Anoush Krikorian's library,
To Zachary Jean Chartkoff for his contribution of books to the ever expanding APP library,
To Artsvi Bakhchinyan and Vartan Matiossian for their scholarship and translations,
To Prof. Dora Sakayan for her translations of Paruyr Sevak and her enthusiasm,
To Prof. Valentina Calzolari for her translations published in the series Patrimoine littéraire J.-C. POLET (éd.),
To L.A.'s Zephyr Poets --Tina Demirdjian, Armine Iknadossian, Shahé Mankerian and Alene Terzian); Karen Karslyan, and Ara Shirinyan, for their support and partication in readings,
To Albert Kaprielian for his aid in getting documents on Canadian-Armenian poet Sha[u]nt Basmajian,
To Sako Arian for his contribution of books,
To Per Wik who introduced his grandfather Harout Kosdantyan and his work,
To Gagik Batikian for his love and sharing of Istanbul's contemporary Armenian poets,
To Elizabeth Grigorian for her assistance at the Glendale Public Library.
To Catherine Fletcher and the editorial staff at Rattapallax for devoting a special feature on post-Genocide Armenian Poetry. 

To the judges of the 1st-6th Arthur Halvajian Memorial poetry writing competition: Garen Kazanc, Christopher Janigian; Lisa Whitten, Silva Ajamian, Dr. Rachel Goshgarian, Father Mesrob Lakissian and Alice Movsesian.

To Louise Kiffer of France and Sylvie M. Miller of U.K. for their translations of poems into French, and Tatul Sonentz-Papazian for this translations into Armenian, French and English.

To the budding poets who send me emails and who participated in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd anniversary Poetry Blasts, and APP's poetry writing competition.

To the volunteer readers who contributed their voices to 19th - 21st century authors.

To the staff at Horizon Weekly's Literary Supplement (Montréal); the Aztag Daily's Literary and Arts Supplement (Beirut); the New York Public Library (Humanities Research); the Glendale Public Library; the Zohrab Center (New York); the Armenian Prelacy (New York); the AGBU's Bibliothèque Nubar (Paris); and, the Librairie Samuélian (Paris).

Lola Koundakjian
Curator and Producer of The Armenian Poetry Project

Kosrof Chantikian: Fiesole

1.    Morning

The yellow roses
are hanging from the century’s
old iron gratings and wood beams

where dozens of birds – sitting and whistling
make their intelligible sounds
to one another   charting out their new day

From the pensione on the hill
you see the red tile roof of the Duomo.
Farther away the sky chokes from the gray scars of orphaned air

2.    Afternoon

I hear the woman’s heavy laughter
in the house below   bouncing as it echoes through the air

I imagine she is with her friend, her lover.
Her laughter becomes part of the landscape
that makes the countryside wild and alive

I hear the woman’s laughter again as the church bells toll nearby
two vastly different sounds   one from the body of the woman
the other symbolizing the body of Christ

I wondered if these two entirely different sounds could –
if they tasted each other – be transformed by love into one another?

3.   Night

How large is the chasm between your soft flesh and rough faith?
Between faith and the imagination?

Is experience everything?

Your laughter rushing forth uncontrollably
as if the rose’s fragrance were rising to the sky

trying to break down heaven’s gate
as if Circe were calling you home   calling you to her pleasures

The church bells sounding   the sound of His body
but the body only as idea   abstraction

Laughter would not chase away the sound of tolling bells
Laughter would grab onto that sound – swallow it wholly

But can the church bells accept
your body and your laughter?

Which would you choose?

I choose your laughter and your body together

The fleshy tissue of colors
of each of your hands

and your summer fingers undressing
the wild dreams of the night sky