Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Theadora Siranian: Belle Reprieve

In upstate New York you wake
every morning to a field blue with frost.

Every day is perfected: not a blade of grass moves.
This is the world you need; we always knew this.

Even in that January, endless month,
cutting through the air a gyre of possibilities,

touchless. Huddled together in empty
store doorfronts, such tender animals,

feather and oil, pinions holding palms to mouths,
whispering secrets the wind ripped away,

fragile words flung into the well of winter.

A nanosecond’s grace unraveling, just another
tiny spool of thread lost to the universe,

bodies breaking against air sharp
enough to crack skin, and even now,

in the recesses, the locked corridors
of admission, it still exists: the endurance of the desire

to know nothing better than the shape of your face.

Originally published in Amethyst Arsenic, Winter 2014

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Theadora Siranian: Pepper’s Ghost

Before night swarms across the sky—brief slash
of winter citrus at the horizon, then evicted
by darkness. I’m in love again with the idea

of being beautiful, spying my mirrored self
in the dusky half-light. As if only at day’s end
may I be content with my own physicality.

But what I see darts past, sidles in and out,
is vague, porous, not to be trusted. In sleep
I find an egg cratered as the moon floating

in my palm. Obsidian carapace hovering,
murmuring, cracking open to reveal a yolk black
and dense as an animal’s pupil. Limitless

universe, starless galaxy. Midmornings as
a child I watched my mother pray, crouching
in the bedroom doorway, myself supplicant.

Other language, other voice, her face bathed
in tears. Her words like slivered grafts of light
spilling into her steepled hands. The earth

pushing itself round with ancient, fatal patience.
The day swelling, the cicadas beginning
their metal-thresh hum. Always inexplicable:

the cheap plastic statue of the Virgin
on the nightstand—how she kept her face
placid while the arch of one foot remained

planted firmly on the snake’s back. Once,
a neighbor set her house on fire, running
toward us across the field cradling a honey

jar filled with bees, the flames behind her
framing her hair like a halo. I hear
the nothing whisper, palpable as the blood

moving beneath my skin. I break the egg,
lean forward, openmouthed. I am godless.

Originally published in Chicago Quarterly Review (Vol. 27, 2018)

Monday, March 21, 2022

Theadora Siranian: The Unguarded

for A.B.

Even in sleep, past the road’s soft shoulder,
you are the dark circus tent sitting at the edge

of town, your memory emitting whispered
threats into the landscape. In the stumbling

dark I design highway markers: this is the night,
the early morning, the moon a thin wafer of light.

This is my skin slick with the sweat of dreams,
the exertion of finding my way back to the body.

Athena was hammered from the head of Zeus,
sprang battleborn and screaming. Before

there was conflict, there was the anticipation
of violence. You are the ghost, the penny dropped

down into the dry well. Lying awake I see
you, bent toward the counter, whittling away

at your teeth with the blade of a kitchen knife
and a glass of bourbon. Determined sufferer,

unlucky caulbearer. The stars are wounds
carved from the sky, interminable, accusing.

We weren’t always such poison. Once, we were
as if lovers, closer than lovers, closer than sex,

each scar and ritual of the other better memorized
than the folds of a spouse’s body. What they call

abandonment was escape—our own design. We’d been
planning it for years. Temptation made the sky throb.

Our parents’ violence may have become our own
but we cast ourselves into the darkness. In truth,

we never planned on finding our way back from
the forest. Some myths say Athena had a sibling

or friend, Pallas, whom she accidentally killed.

Heartbroken, Athena took her name.

In some they were opponents in battle.

Originally published in Meridian, Issue 39, 2017

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Theadora Siranian: Fata Morgana


Two nights ago I dreamt you were dead. You, dead for months.
All this time I had been talking to a ghost, face pressed

to the telephone, imagining you doing the same while staring
at a close horizon of snowslashed mountains.

I drift past sheets of blue ice and what we called civilization.
Nothing is left but broken concrete and trees.

Everything an armature of itself and the world silence.

I slip beneath, the water is cold. Toward the sea.


I disinherit myself again and again so that when it’s time to become
nothing I will be ready. There is a bend, always

a bend and always a bridge, weeping, always, when I pass beneath.

Last week I discovered a phrase: anticipatory grief.
An entire category devoted to what I’d always known as waiting.

Abject, brutally finite and yet limitless, waiting.
Hunger without the appetite, without the desire.

If you died tomorrow I would die tomorrow.

The moon is a wafer of barren light in the river.

Anything pressed too far becomes a sin. Toward the sea.

The naked trees are bruises hammered into the sky.
Somehow I know they love me, somehow I know they don’t care.


When I arrived the beach was washed away. The river ran uphill.

Along the ridgeline there is a red horse that can’t stop running.

Even untethered it runs red against the red sun as though trapped
against the sky, back and forth, wildly.

I dreamt you were alive. I dreamt you were unbroken.

Beside the sun burn the stars, glowing embers of paperweight
balloons floating, soaring. Only birds, gliding white

against white turned golden, slowly.

Their wings are burning, or, the sky is a cinder.

The sky a cinder a cinder a cinder and my mouth pressed to the atmosphere

a flame.

I woke and I was the ghost and it was true, all of it.

Originally published in Poetry Northwest, Vol. XIII, 2019

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Introducting Theadora Siranian

Theadora Siranian is a poet and teacher currently living in Kazakhstan. Her poetry has appeared in Best New Poets, Ghost City Press, and Atticus Review, among others. In 2014, she was shortlisted for both the Mississippi Review Prize and Southword’s Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. In 2019, Theadora received the Emerging Woman Poet Honor from Small Orange Journal. Her chapbook, She, was released by Seven Kitchens Press in May 2021. More of her work can be found at

Less the Rescue

The year I tried to trick grief
we stood in the airport
parking garage, smoking

cigarettes and staring at one
another, grief finally kissing 
me firmly on the mouth

before smiling knowingly
and heading for the stairwell.
In truth, it was the years

of waiting that kept me going,
M. warning me over 
the telephone as I stood naked, 

staring into a motel mirror:
beware the void, the void.
But that was only one of my

lives—each more lovely
and vicious than the previous,
each earth turning on its axis

adamantine, the standing waves
of endless oceans offering gifts 
below you must be willing

to drown to discover, wreckers
waiting at the shoreline for
the moment you lose your footing.

In one life I lost my freedom
to a man in a tent
staked to a barren hillside,

his fingers finding my hair
in the morning to toss me toward
his waiting truck.

In another I had sisters, three,
and each told a different
story of our conception.

The first claimed our mother loved
a bull, the second that our father
was a hypnotist who tricked

fairgoers into sex involving blood
rituals with the snake charmer’s 
python. The third sister told me

her version while I slept, and I can 
return to it only in dreams. Then,
a woman wearing a wedding 

dress makes love to me
in the grey dishwater waves
of some cold, abandoned shore.

Here, then, I know I’m not 
mad, to be so divided, to love
and loathe in equal parts like some 

ever-bending switch in the wind. 
She stands soaking and bedraggled
beneath the ferrous sky, no longer

looking at me, and walks away 
down the beach. I watch her go, slip
a stone under my tongue, a token

to ferry between this world and the waking.

Originally published in South Dakota Review, Fall 2019

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Rescheduled: Book launch and reading


Book Release and Poetry Reading with book signing and reception in-person 

for History of Forgetfulness by Shahé Mankerian

(Fly on the Wall Press, 2021)

Thursday, March 10th, 2022 at 7:00pm ET

Guild Hall | Armenian Diocese

630 2nd Ave, New York, NY

PLEASE NOTE: All attendees must provide proof of COVID vaccination

Readings by the author and NY area writers and scholars:
Nancy Agabian, Christopher Atamian,
Alina Gregorian, Alan Semerdjian,
Alina Gharabegian & Lola Koundakjian

Shahé Mankerian releases his critically-acclaimed debut collection, taking readers back to 1975 Beirut, where an un-civil war is brewing. 
Mankerian asks, “Who said war didn’t love / the children?” setting the tone for a darkly humorous collection in which memories of love, religion and childhood are entangled amongst street snipers and the confusion of misguided bombings.

For more information contact Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 2nd Avenue | New York, NY 10016-4885