Saturday, June 20, 2020

And our epidemic series grande finale: poems written by 8th Grade Students, St. Gregory Hovsepian School, Pasadena California

The Armenian Poetry Project thanks longtime contributor and friend, Shahé Mankerian, principal of the St. Gregory Hovsepian School, Pasadena California. We thank the principal and all the students who participated in this project.

Inspired by “A Letter” by Langston Hughes

The Fifth Season

Dear Daydreamer,

I walk through the rows of roses admiring their beauty.
The clouds are swirled into a series of perfect wisps.
The birds have taken it upon themselves to make music;
I tip my gold Crown as a greeting when I pass by each of my people,
Ignoring the hissing Serpentine hiding in the bushes.

It’s Spring. At least I think so.

I wave to the bees in the buttercups.
The soothing sound of the Golden Streams lull me to sleep.
The sun kisses my skin with soft, warm lips.
Life feels like nothing more than a lucid dream.
I search for shade, but that’s where the Demons hide.

It’s Summer. At least I think so.

The sky bleeds a beautiful orange,
Even the slightest breeze gives a shower of brown leaves.
We sit around the campfire watching the smoke float up.
The harvest is bountiful this time around.
I disregard the dancing shadows peeking from underneath the pile of leaves.

It’s Fall. At least I think so.

I skip through the paths of perfectly shoveled snow.
I spot every animal’s burrow,
Each unique snowflake, handcrafted and carved by taloned hands.
The last Unworthy Rose pokes its head out the snow,
But before it can see the light of day, the phantoms snatch it from its roots.

It’s Winter. At least I think so.

The once perfect utopia is shattered.
The patchy cardboard buildings collapse to ruin,
Leaving dents in the ruler’s mind.
Her Crown can’t protect her anymore, for paper is no match for rain.

It was Gold. At least I think so.

The Serpentine have poked holes in her bubble with their venomous fangs.
It’s on the verge of bursting; no dream is strong enough.
She runs until her legs can carry her no more,
And karma is right at her tail.

You’re okay. At least I think so.

I hear a distant popping noise, and I’m awoken from my dreams,
But I’m still trapped.
The wolf wore the sheep clothing as a perfect disguise.
The dream wore reality as a perfect imperfect disguise.
There was no one to abandon me, so I abandoned myself.

Sugar and Salt. At least I think so.

The Serpent is strangely quiet, but never silenced.
The Demons wait for the chance to unsheathe.
The Shadows lurk in the woods, hiding between the pines.
The Phantoms sit on a brick wall, watching me with crooked smiles.
I sit among my throne, a Grave of Dreams.

It was inevitable. At least I think so.

For even the last Unworthy Rose needs both sunlight and rain to bloom,
But I only received heavy showers.

Sincerely, Sophie Shahinian… At least I think so. 

Dear Baron Shahé,

I no longer have the freedom that I used to have.
I am now trapped within four walls.
If I attempt to escape, it can result in sickness and death.
I have to wear gloves and mask to keep myself protected.
I have not seen anybody in months. It is scary out there.
It is unbelievable how a simple situation can escalate.

                                                                        --Berlyn Kendirian

P.S. Shipping may be delayed due to Covid-19.

Dear Father of the School I Attend,

I found a bomb in my yard a few years back.
I found it while I was digging to plant flowers
and while watching two white doves create their nests
on the tall tree, in the corner, left on the street I was living on.

The bomb—covered with white, flowered lace—
was beautiful and unique. It was nothing compared
to other bombs. In the middle, there were two
large white roses, poking out from the inside.

The bomb had water in it, keeping the flowers
hydrated and alive. Captivated by its beauty, I took it
home and used it as a decorative piece.
I added it to the shelf where I keep my Swarovski.

As time went on, like all flowers, I witnessed the shedding
of petals and leaves. The top of the bomb stayed barren
during this period. Nonetheless, the flowers growing
from the inside still had strong and healthy roots.

The barren pistils didn’t make a difference
to the beauty of the bomb. The petals always grew back
when spring came along. Besides, I cleaned up the mess
on my shelf with two swipes.

One time, I forgot to fill the bomb up with water.
Naturally, the petals wilted away. The stems, though dry,
stood still. The roots turned to vulnerable dust.
The fallen petals and pollen turned the dainty lace dirty.

I tried to clean the lace—stained by the pigments—
in my yard, as I watched the neighbors have a barbeque.
I saw a small burnt paper fly through the wind.
If only the lace wasn’t dirty, I could’ve joined the fun.

I spent my day washing a bomb.
I miss you greatly.


Ellen Vartanyan

Web of Emotions
by Levon Shenian

As the days go by, my body begins to weaken.
I stay inside all day, away from illnesses
without realizing what is ahead of me.

My heart crumbles when I think of my friends,
knowing we will be separated for a while.
Yet I feel a new side of me spring forth from the back of my brain.

It’s a sign of independence and maturity.
I understand what the real world is like.
It’s not everything we dreamed of as kids.

It’s scary, a bit harder than we think.
This is quarantine. A lot harder than I thought.
I will be ready to move on and start a new chapter.

Dear Baron Shahé

            By the end of the day, my phone’s and computer’s batteries are dead and I end up with an immense headache. I am now well acquainted with the Amazon delivery guy, and my bookshelf has exploded. The crow that always flies over our house, when this little bird sits on the powerline and chirps, is named Treasure Hunt, and the little bird, Ex. Ex marks the spot. I thought it was amusing, but my sister is now worried for my sanity. I blame it on being cooped up all day. To entertain myself I get a bag of M&M’s and microwave them. Then, I get one in my left hand and one in my right, and hold them up with my fingers. Then, it becomes a competition as I squish them to see which one cracks first. The uncracked champion versus the next M&M in line, and so on and so forth, until the last M&M standing. You may find my champion M&M in the envelope I mailed you. Please forward my champion to the M&M headquarters for breeding purposes.

                                                                                                            Thank you,
                                                                                                            Aleen Kojikian

Dear Baron,

I’m a bowl of soggy organic wheat waffles cereal from Whole Foods. It was the only option available; it’s quite good actually. Cultural and societal standards seep into every crevice. They ponder; they revile my appearance. Before they consumed me, they were just thoughts.

            “Friends” treat my loyalty like the bowl, an outsider. They think if you break it, you can just buy a new one, a replacement; cleaner than before, unused, untouched, stable. Do they realize a new one is a backstab? Lingering is a backstab.

            Almond milk is my heart, vegan. I miss someone I’ve never met. I love someone I’ve never met. How did I establish that relationship in my head when they don’t even know I exist? Their acting gave it all away, so profound, so emotionally abusive. Its familiarity is making it addictive. No matter the warp it puts me in, I crave it. It’s dominant, but it was a joke from the start. It broke the internet.

            I placed a spoon in the fridge the night before. Why? I knew when I woke up my eyes would have the reminisces from the hours of leftover curdled water I had shed until 3:36 a.m. Double the size, size 24 to be precise; font Arial not Times New Roman, and not double spaced. They were single-spaced, thin lining, red. Minus the subduing of outside forces I have repressed myself from those whom I thought I knew. They did it first. “A relationship isn’t about one person trying to force a connection. If It’s not reciprocated, move on.”

                                                                                                            --Natalia Agadjian

Dear Baron Shahé,

I sit here in my home surrounded
by four thick walls. The local newspaper
is filled with dullness. The VHS tapes
have been worn out and stopped working.
The orange tree, that produces those bright,
juicy oranges, has stopped giving fruits.
I used to pick and squeeze them. The neighbor
next door finally moved out after she saved
enough money. She always wanted to move.
I send much love and hope all is well.
Say hello to your daughter from me.

                                    --Emily Markarian

Dear Baron Shahé

            Quarantine is like being a fish in the ocean,
scared and vulnerable, not knowing what’s out there.
Covid-19 is the shark that’s chasing after all of us.
The school of fish means more food for the shark.
The ones that stay away, have a better chance to survive.
I’m one of those fish, scared of the world, not wanting
to leave my home because the predator is ready to attack
at any moment. I live in fear, not wanting to be hit
by the monster that is out there killing people one by one,
not wanting to be a part of those numbers, not wanting
to be the one who dies. It’s a scary world we live in.
We never know what will come next.
                                                            Best regards,
                                                            Claudine Azilazian

Dear Baron Shahé,

I wake up every morning
to a beautiful sunrise. I eat breakfast
with my eyes barely open. I begin
my schoolwork until I go outside  
for a break. I watch the birds fly
from left to right, chirping to each other.
Then, at lunchtime, I eat. I finish
my schoolwork until night. I realize
my days are about eating and doing
homework. I need better days than these.
I wake up the next day. The cycle continues…

                                    Your student with gratitude,
                                    Anthony Keshishian

Dear Baron Shahé

I’m hoping this letter finds you in great spirits.
All thoughts, emotions, and mental expectations
Have been halted due to this shelter in place order.
All forms of communication, social interaction
with friends and family seems a thing of distant past.
Oh, when will we ever experience normalcy or even
breathe freely without restrictions or lockdowns?
Spending countless hours thinking how someone’s
lack of responsibility placed the entire world
into this position of uncertainty.        
                                                Best regards,
                                                Alique Klahejian

Dear Baron,

As time flies and walks, I’m still stuck
in a cage, stuck in a prison, frozen in a game.
This life is broken, but I still find a way
to strive through it. I look into the future,
and I don’t remember the past.
I feel as if I’m controlled,
and the only time I’m in control is at night.
My brain feels like a boat;
the more it tilts the more I lose.

                                                Yours truly,
                                                            Your student,
                                                                        Alex Kassardjian

Dear Baron,

            I’ve been doing nothing
but watch Netflix and complete
my online school assignments.
I wake up, stay home all day,
and go back to sleep. There’s no
graduation or nothing in general.
Honestly, I’m in a pointless cycle.
I can’t wait till all of this is over
so that I can finally be free.

                        Cynthia Vanesian


Dear Baron Shahé

My thoughts are everywhere. I look
at my right. I see a blue sky covering
people’s struggles. I look at my left.
I see a dark sky pulling people into sadness.
I get called by two of them,
yet they still feel the same.

                                    Natel Artin

How Do I Survive?
by Hagop Latchinian

            The lockdown has happened.
Being at home all day, every day, feels
overwhelming. I read the memo that
our school is cancelled. I freak out
slightly until I understand. My parents
give me facts. They are not worried
that we’ll contract the virus, but
they are concerned about the economy.
I am beginning to hate schedules.
I’m trying to be active. I watch videos
On YouTube for yoga. We are taking
Walks when weather permits.

Dear Baron Shahé

Where did the years go?
It only seems like yesterday…
So many fond memories to cherish.
The day we separated is the day we stopped…
The day we meet again is the day we rejoice.

                                    With gratitude,
                                    Mihran Simonian