I am the eternal

eight-legged spider

my web stretches between the window

and TV screen

ad infinitum

between the hollow time

of real and virtual deaths

I can see everything from my center—

abud appeared on a branch

a pop star sang a familiar song

on TV

a woman gave birth to a son again

a soldier exploded

beforethe bud could fullyopen

you first see the light

then you hear the sound

(the laws of nature never change

unlike the laws of conscience)

the light

the sound

the dust

the shoes

a mother screams and falls down

the soil is an underground museum

here is a soldier four centuries after death

and here—only four hours after

everything repeatsidentically. . . which means

something must be wrong

I am the eternal mourner

in my four black veils

my grandfather was killed by a Turk

my father was killed by a German

my son was killed by an Azeri

and yesterday my daughter gave birth to a son

all killed

all killed

all killed

history repeats itself identically

it’s time to elect a new Barabbas

I am the four-part choir

of an eternal jeremiad

I am the velvety mezzo-soprano of a virgin

I am the lyrical tenor of a new bride

I am the restrained baritone of a widowed woman

I am the gruff bass of my cataracted grandmother

I am the eternal eight-thighed nothingness

my grandmother knelt and gave birth to a son

my mother knelt and gave birth to a son

I knelt and gave birth to a son

my daughter knelt and gave birth to a son

our sons crawl

stand up

and fall dead

the oceans need the drowned

I am the eternal dancer

of time

the same cabaret quartet

the same eight-thighed chain of muscles

and the same dance of death

beneath the flashing lights of guns

my grandmother bends her left knee and looks right

my mother bends her left knee and looks right

I bend my left knee and look right

my daughter bends her left knee and looks right

(how I hate these plagiarized knees)

I am the goddess of war

in a metal-hued


camouflage skirt

with bombs instead of breasts

time touches my nipples

and falls down

I will always be around . . . that’s not the question

I just need four moods of sadness

and it’s summer here all year round

My black sister

my sun-tanned


I am still sold each night

by the same gene of slavery

still sleep with the one

whom I do not love

still sell my boys to the war

so they can kill those whom they don’t hate

girls with thick lips

also girls with slanted eyes

                       in the cotton fields

or rice

my soul sisters from the whorehouse

our story is the same


the struggle of innocence against the beast

I will string my words properly one day

and everyone will see at once

the true face of war

my groomed sisters

multiplying by thousands

            in the hairdresser’s mirror

drying your hair

under electric helmets—

poke out your heads

            likehesitant turtles

and I will tell you about

even hotter


                       of the desert

about gas chambersand fire camps



but in my dream—sisters—

you appear without the hair curlers

you have red faces—terrified

girls who have escaped from hell

and you drag the metal skeleton

of war to court

then togetheryou turn around

with staccato clicks of heels

shaking acrylics in the air and

colorful butterflies from your nails

you leave the court—

and go out

to conquer the world with laughter.

The day comes to an end—the curtain falls

at the usual hourautomatically

darkening the screen and

the scream of the soldier’s mother

stops at once

in the lustful air of my bedroom

a hundred millennia had passed

in my dream

and a scientist with bat ears

was trying to decipher

the emails of our time

excited as much

as we are today

when we find a scribbling

in a cave


from a single hair preserved from a tail

he cloned again

the war horse

when I awoke from my dream

the war in Iraq

was still on—

an exotic serial drama

with real blood and deaths

made by a wealthy producer—

see the four women

waving their shawls in the air

shiny but not transparent

like the wings of a raven

bending over a corpse


daybreak . . . the curtain opens automatically

and then the coffee-machine turns on

. . . He would spin his walking stick

demonstratively in the air

three times

every six steps

(he had turned his loss into a ceremony

not to lose the charm of his gait

of a triumphant colonel)

“In the north-east . . . below the river”


—he could show the exact coordinates

of his left leg on the map

“The cancer

is back again

as expected

and now it has metastasized


my mothersaid and wept


while I thought

she was talking of God

and the Arrival


I’d already been secretly rejoicing

my father has been gone for many years now

(chemo . . . pain . . . nausea

radiation . . . headaches . . . death)

while I am in bed


with thisstranger soldier

who will bomb Iraq stealthily

tomorrow at about this time


I remember my father

who had an answer

for everything

(mother only regulated the tone of his voice)

I remember my old worn

Santa Claus doll

stuck at the top of my closet

always falling on my head


each time I would open the door


the soldier bends over to kiss my smile


and it has nothing to do

with war




The soldier was motionless and not breathing

when the golden-haired doctor

came in

there was a promise of resurrection

in her eyes

like in the gaze

of a war goddess

I would’ve liked to be

in medieval Venice

when it was fashionable

to wear masks without occasion

and walk from St. Peter’s Basilica

to St. Mark’s Square



burn the effigy

of war

(I have been traveling like a pirate for a while

with a black eye-patch across my face

half the number of the dead is enough

to turn me mad—

my heart would burst if it doubled)


how many more will have to explode

on this street

for us to call it the “end of the world”?

(why is this number not in the Bible?)

my head will erupt

if I don’t squeeze my temples with my palms

my brain will burst in a fountain—

for in my dream

Kafka is pacing in a small room

and moaning as always

angry Baudelaire is ripping

the thousand-colored flowers of evil

with his back turned Charents

is urinating on the carved door of heaven

it’s morning . . . I wake up in my bed

to see a new explosion on the screen

are the soldier and the doctor

making love

or are they lying dead

embraced in each other’s arms?

My dream—

                       a wintry battlefield

a shot is heard

            and the snow turns red

                                   in one spot

it’s the same face in camouflage


he must have remembered something nice

            before his death

but it’s my fault

                       that you are dead now

my mind awoke too late

I should have hid you

            under the tent of my carnival skirt

and I should have told him—

the man who had been patiently leaning against the door


(I still can’t figure out what happened . . .

where did the other stocking go?)

in my theatrical voice



                                               o he is no longer with us

                                   your death is an inflated rumor

                                   you know how I dislike such tasteless things

                                               in a dream—o Hamlet

it’s the same person each time

I tear the black piece of paper

                       each night

            and leaningover my balcony

                                   almost split into two

I scatter the pieces in the air like snow

                       and wait for you to return

                                               in vain

                                                           in vain

                       one more day

            and my hair

                                   will reach the rose bush

I close my eyes

                       and the theater of war


                       older than mankind

always the same scenario

            of the soldier walking toward his death

                       for thesake of the same myth

                       that tomorrow will be a better day

            but the truth is—

                       a soldier dies every day

                       a veteran shoots himself

every hour

                                   which amounts to eight thousand

                                               people per year

says the anchorwoman on TV

            otherwise I am weak at math

            illiterate when it comes to war

I don’t comprehend it at all


when a bomb explodes somewhere

I close my ears as tight as I can . . .  

                       like this . . .

I am reading the Bible in bed—

in the beginning there was the Word after which

           there were wars

                       and more wars

an eternal game of chess

                       the soldiers

                       waiting to fall or

            they have already fallen

history is silent

                                   like God

like time and anything else

that is un-self-aware

            boys—you are the empty chairs

in my dream


            like in Van Gogh’s paintings

            time is a self-perpetuating river

of blood

            you can’t step into the same river twice

God is a poet minus the Word


                       disappearing kind

                                               you are the path

                                                           from now on

the beginning and end of this story

whether “holy”

                       or “of the roses”

                                   it’s the same metallic taste

                                   on my palate

            the same story

of the limbless solder everywhere

the same folded sleeves on the jacket

                       while the arms are kept under the snow

                       as seeds for the new war


            your king is naked!

                       a thief of cradles

                       a fag

                       a hermaphrodite

                                   who lusts for muscles and facial hair

nobody can drown

            his ballooned up body filled with air

nobody can smash

            his quern-stone heart in this world

nobody—that is—born of men

I am reading the Bible from back to front

the flood can carry off

            all the weapons from the boxes

I let my song fly like a dove

                       I’ll return when the blood

                                   is gone

            and when the grainis as large as an egg



the flood or the snow have nothing to do with it

it’s what’s inside me that makes me cold


At the turn of the century

a million and a half Armenians perished in the desert

four million people died in Congo

seventy thousand died in Darfur


in Baku



ten million more died at the end of the century

from just starvation and diarrhea

after all of this—

am I a child

to trust our present-day gods

who can spread death everywhere

but who can’t bestow upon us the miracle of Lazarus?

. . . and in my free hours

I search for the Savior as always

peeking through

random windows in my city—

what God I’m thinking

doesn’t have

an ordinary home on Earth?

the church is a house-museum

what I mean is a home

furnished with hope

and love

a place to live in—    

do you understand?

a home with a regular table and bed

Sixty-six people

                       died in Ukraine

thirty in Syria

a policeman is dragging

                                   a soldier’s body

Aleppo is burning in flames

the only bloodless news

                                   is from Sochi

the Olympic ice of the battlefield

           where couples dance

                                   for gold

           they turn in the air

                       three times

                                   and win

                                   they always win

while everyone loses

                                   at war

henceforth they are my heroes—

                       the half-naked girl in the skates

                       and the boy

who flawlessly catches the girl’s body

in midair       

            and carries her on his strong shoulder

                       as a gift

                                   elegantly gliding

                                               amid applause

though before

            my hero was Cleopatra

                       with her Roman sandals

                       black hair

                                   straight bangs covering her forehead

I can’t say I haven’t dreamed          

of lounging on a gilt-edged chair

            carried on the shoulders

                       of my four surreptitious lovers

like a demigod

            and to have armies and thousands of elephants

            clashing against each other

                       while I sleep with the victor each night

                       but that was yesterday

today my newest military dream

                                   is the shiny smooth ice-rink

            my newest king is the chess king

let them fight from now on

                                   with their funny crowns

            and let only wooden soldiers die

falling bloodlessly onto their sides

another man died from a bomb in Gaza

taking with him ten others

            Aleppo is still in flames

a firefighter is dragging a soldier’s body

the only bloodless news

                                   is from Sochi

a place of escape and beauty

what I am most afraid of

is beauty losing meaning


the referee blows his whistle

                       and they move—

                                   the three Olympic


my new hero—the half-naked girl in skates

is in the middle

The spring

anointed spy

in camouflage


like a tyrant

expands its borders


day by day



a blood-scented flower

blooms at night—

the war

a metallic chessboard

the boys collide and fall down

with a clanging thud

the border

is on the asphalt

while under the ground

the bones of enemy soldiers


it’s spring . . . the scent of muscles

the eternal revelries of rats

that have been around since the world’s beginning

in the meantime the hordes of boys will move

slightly more to the north

like the bisons and . . . disappear

time is afraid of nothing but rodents

I push a button on the remote control

and I am served the war

along with my coffee

in bed

the shooting is sooninterrupted

with an advertisement for a new

kind of lipstick

and then again

a gas mask is swinging from a nail

like an elephant’s trunk

it’s springtime . . . and yet

the blood-red like an aggressor

is gradually taking over my screen

that’s a fallen soldier

that’s not an unripe fruit

underneath the tree

spoiled from hale—

look at those leaves

sweating on the branches

as if they’ve fought all night long

it’s midnight . . . the TV turns off

stopping the metallic scream

of the soldier’s mother

I willingly believe

that I was watching

a movie


that now in the backstage

the solder is changing

in front of a mirror

collecting my hair to the side

I caress with my cheek the silk

of my new pillow

it’s springtime . . .

the Earth’s season of violets

is there not a single word

a sigh or a sound

that would put an end

to war at once

like a word before an orgasm

that suddenly ends

the love act?

but it’s still kindergarten

on my screen

the time after lunch

soldiers with childlike faces

lying next to each other in rows

under white sheets

as pure and hermetic

as snow

Spring is here

first . . .

you hear

the long-awaited song

of the lovelorn bird

like atune from a well-knownballet

then . . .

the false and tasteless

chamber music of the bombs

and my h-e-a-r-i-n-g

is paralyzed with impotence

supposedly it’s spring

and this issupposedly the sound of spring


turn four and a half times

on my right leg



and turn my back

against the world

to show

my disgust

I am nauseated . . .

although supposedly it’s spring outside


the trees

are baring their buds

We were facing each other again in a dream

me and the devil of war—

the city has pushed its nipple

into my mouth

interrupting my complaint

to time


latched onto the wet nurse’s breast

I am afraid of everything—


about God’s death

the descent of flying objects

the thinning of the ozone layer

the dangerous gossip of princes

with empty rubber souls

that one day they will resurrect

but most of all I am afraid of war

I will put you in the corner


o time of war

(like a teacher punishing a terrible child)

as soon

as my wet nurse

with her huge

silicone breasts

                       falls asleep

I am a common Armenian woman

my main character trait—


I have worshipped all the gods

my lovers

(love makes me a democrat each time)

sometimes I have prayed to two rival gods

in a single day (to Christ in the morning and

five times to Allah by the mosque

with my head bent almost to the ground)

I remember Faris—

he was like an Egyptian pyramid

broad shoulders

a pointy hat underneath the sheets

he could whistle a tune

and sing another song at the same time—

was a prayer too hard for me?

I was ready to die for him

naked and shameless after making love

(we made love not approximately

but exactly fifty times

as he marked the wall with crosses)

his long hair

would get tangled

in the branches of a tree

he left for the war

to fight for me and the oil fields

and he came back home too soon

in a securely tight zinc box

I didn’t see him after that

he was covered with a star-spangled banner

and I would have liked so much

to wrap his body in linen wrappings

(soaked with the eternal oils of myrrh)

like an Egyptian mummy

I am almost home already

with the Only-born

farewell to you my city

of angels

my Faris

over there

down below an old man

is quietly separating light from darkness

with his shovel

perhaps he is the new God


if you don’t want war

don’t look at the soldier

                                   with admiration

and you’ll see how he’ll put

            his shiny arms


                                               without delay

as if a child asking for attention

I close my eyes and the boys

are fighting with water guns

            and when the golden field sways

            over the cracked sands of the desert

                       it’s the sabre dance next

and the boys are fighting

                       against locusts

            or they’re driving them out one by one

with giant

multicolored fans

           there is my hero—


with the most locusts in his bag

my heart is yours

            from now on

hold me tight

let’s make love till dawn

           in the fields of wheat

                       that you just saved


I have a thousand scenarios like this for war’s death

Indeed how short

            are the days of love on Earth—

do you remember darling

how you used to throw

                       your boots

carelessly by the bed

            in the room full of pheromones

                       the wine

and our synchronous movements

under the sheets?

Now you are gone . . . dead

in a city

            that can’t be found on a map

I recall your footsteps

                                   in the snow

and cry

            (I am a crier don’t you know?)

                       while the dog

howls sadly

            cursing God

the moon and everything else

that exists

up there in the sky


you know I resurrected you

in my dream

           from the snowy pattern of your footstep

           branches on your head

then you died again

                       in our room

on my knees this time

Let them call me a pompous

                                   seasonal poet

let my verses

sound childish

I will still write about the arrival of spring

and the end

                       of war

            for I still remember you


my front-door neighbor from Pakistan

you who had lost your son

                                   the previous night

and had to go to work the very next morning

getting used to it is never an option

—years later

                       when you are no longer alive

(first you drowned your body in tears

then you threw yourself out of the window

like a useless thing)

I still see the movement

                       of your black-clad ghost

your aimless walking

back and forth


like a prisoner

in a cell

                       and I see you stopping

by the TV which

you had covered with a white cloth

as the body of the deceased

I see you Aghma clearly

            across from the window

                       in your mirror

a thousand mourning Aghmas

stretched to infinity

hunched over the black and shiny

sewing machine

like the charred body of a child

nothing has changed—Aghma

            I see from my window

                       a pilotless plane

that kills the rest


and remains unmovedin the sky

                                   like God

I close my eyes

and from the mist

           war is born

                       like a drunk mother

who devours her own children

            piece by piece

            like in the legend of the Agave

then the snow comes gently

turning the mound of bones

           into something white and smooth

and I see you again

     in flight

a woman-bird

           with black impenetrable wings

                       and bare feet

                       buoyant in the wind

                       like an airborne leaflet

I remember your passage

            through the sky

your body against war

(for my lover who was killed in the war)

There is no more memory

it died with you

                       in Pakistan

I look at your picture and accordingly

            invent a prayer—like Christ

my gaze—

            a quick bird’s head

            skips left and


turns toward the voice

            or the explosion


                       like a newborn’s gaze

I can see from the window now

the fog is slowly



the pieces of life emerge


on a bicycle—

I see the hat first


           the boy

do you remember how we sat

           on the bed cross-legged—lotus style

                       shoving pizza

into each other’s mouths


like two monkeys

with open gums

you shouldn’t think that my memory

            is back

                       I simply found a new picture in my diary

the priest asked

the Heavenly God

            (on live television—from Pakistan)

to admit his

                       half-servant (the bomb had taken the other half)

the Lord now had

            to raise the remains of the man

there’s no memory—and so

my vision has become unbearably sharper

                       I can see more now—

the underworld as it is

the transfiguration of death

           into earthbound time—

                       it’s light pink

passing from throat to throat

           translucent like a worm


            My ancestral home

                       with a bloomed skin

            with my grandmother’s dreams


            from the chimney

            my ancestral home

                       and ancestral dog

that like a ritual

           turned his whole body around slowly

           while looking straight into my eyes

(as if for the last time)

and then walked away sadly

like those trained dogs

           (in the movies)

                       that sacrifice themselves

                       for your sake

my ancestral home

            filled with the light milky scent of aprons

            a stone giant

            with a crumbling chimney


echoing the rusted bells

(as if for the last time)

            a sad howling . . . howling . . .

(because I adore my ordinary boys so much)

It’s interesting . . . I’m thinking (rocking my fluid skirt)

the desert gives birth to geniuses

while I—

to ordinary boys

each time

when the lascivious wind

lifts the skirt of the desert

a new prophet

is born

(a Christ . . . a Moses . . . a Muhammad)

and they were all in my dream

around the same table


it was the mystical supper

after the final war

and like a teacher

with my back turned to them

I was writing with a chalk in my fist



T H E   E N D

like in the movies


and Judas . . . I forgot . . . wasn’t there

he had died heroically

Our Father who art dumb

and therefore

sharper is your sense of smell!

how can you bear this stench

of blood

that has collected over millennia?

I wish I lived in ancient Greece

in former

Zeus’s harem of gods

and played those games

that only women gods were allowed

to play

turn me at least into a long-necked swan

o Lord

so I may seduce the new princes

or change your commandment on suicide

so I may throw myself into the sea like Io

God of the lame, who art in labor

to create a thorax without a leg . . . clayey hands

have you always been this reticent

or did you just turn mute?


Greetings to you, my desert sisters—

brides of the desert—

                       warm greetings to you—

a female poet is mixing

with a ladle

            the hellish furnace of Der Zor

and your luminous faces

                       are springing up

one by one

out of the dense smoke—


            help me, o muse of the desert,

            without you

I can’t


            the discordant clatter

            of these bones—

            nor the whisper of the wind

            that can be easily tamed into a song



            to my story

buried in silence

greater than God


wasted in the sand

like an eagle’s seed on a stone—

the seed of the most perfect one—

waiting for its hour of bloom


listen! you—

carelessly leaning

against your beloved—

can you listen to my story

without counting the rhymes

of my repeating lines?—

they go back and forth

the wind and the pain are my teachers

both prone to repetition

listen! . . . listen to me!


I am the last bride of Der Zor

           my veil—a sandstorm


I run

pulling the desert

like the train

of my bridal dress



I am the runaway virgin—

with murmuring knees

in the sands

the ghost of your dreams

            in a bloody veil


            let no other virgin in the desert

                                  be betrothed after me


I am the last bride of Der Zor

a virgin cut short by a scimitar

with talking jaws


            buried up to my knees in the sand    

but I wasn’t always like that:

            I was a mermaid before

                       with a varicolored tail

in Armenia stretching from sea to sea          

until the evil

dawn of day

when I shed my scales and

                                   ended up

in this blazing hell

as a refugee inhermeticsocks


I am the virgin—concubine and servant

of the pimp-desert

the seller of women—

I am their ghost and their poet

my body didn’t crowd the rivers

and wasn’t anointed

with myrrh


            lucky were the waterlily girls

who like dancers

jumped synchronously

into the waters holding hands

mixing the flowers on their skirts

            with the glistening foam of laughter—

            lucky were those who intuitively

swung their rosy shins

under the sun

filling their breasts


with the milky light of dawn—

lucky were those who swam

and then turned motionless

with impenetrable eyes—like a canvas

soaked in watercolors


help me, o muse of the desert

I want to sing for those girls

with thorny braids

who crawled

to their death

on blood-drenched knees under the sun

who still drink with parched lips

the yellow darkness of the sand



the untalented desert sun

can offer no other chimeras

but the mirage

                       of loose haired

virgins running insanely

—endlessly multiplying


like the fish of Christ

in the yellow mirror of the wasteland


the thorns remember

                       thorn-picked (like goose flesh)

ask and they’llprompt if you listen

it’s simply difficult to pay attention

to lendan ear—

who else but me

should do the telling?         

I am the last hope

                                             the last witness

the last female poet of the desert

I am the virgin . . . concubine and servant

of the pimp-desert

seller of women—

lucky are those whose knees

didn’t open out of fear of the scimitar

I am the last bride of Der Zor

the lastconductor of this underworld

the winds blow and endlessly



upside down—

I set the tempo

of the one and a half million

I am the ghost in a white frock

moving my baton under the sand

God watches and cannot see

(the old man with cataract)


who speaks from hell

can blaspheme even God!



I am the last witness

the last glance of the desert

I have seen the sky

            in that April

as a terrified mother

                       with her stars

                       and her moon





like the belly

of a dying child

I have seen the savage lust

in the bloodshot eyes of the sultan

            and the blackthorn in his veins



listen carefully!

I am the eternal virgin

of the epic poem

my fall is the fall of the female gene

the gene of the East


of the West

my defeat is the defeat

of innocence

my end is the end of the universe

under the sky of all geneses

I am the collective ghost

of all the virgins in the sand

my thighs have gathered the dust

of one hundred years

I hold not my beloved’s seed—

I am the concubine of this barren desert

thistle and soilin my thighs

my skirts have been gathering thorns

for one hundred years

there are two kinds of thorns in the desert

those that prick your feet

andthose that prick your memory and . . . the rest


I am the last timekeeper

                                   of the desert

time ends

            beneath my eyelids

I am an hourglass

                       with a thin back

time is different here—

it trickles yellow

like the sand                         

of the shiny bulbous throats

always keeping the same

            hour of death—eternally


I am the last bride of Der Zor

the last sage of the desert

            who can find with closed eyes

            the path to hell

            in the sands—

                        who else

could tell this story

better than me?

            and if you don’t care

            about the disappearance

            of the one and a half million in the sand

then what . . . what kind of a human being

what kind of a human being are you



listen to my story!

the world is numb and God is old—


who speaks from hell

can blasphemeeven God)

the wind comes howling

the wind returns

to the crime scene

to spin everything one more time



I now conclude the century in a quatrain

. . . there are two kinds of winds in the desert

those that blow from the north and move

                                               the bones in the sand

and those that blow from the south and move

                                               the sand in the bones . . .



help me, o muse

                       can’t you see—

the screams muffled in the dust

won’t turn into songs

the medusa of countless bones in the sand

won’t turn into an epic poem


            return my sins

                       for which I have paid dearly


            and besides

            they are my sins

                       after all

it’s unreasonable to talk

about my place in the kingdom of heaven


(can’t you see that heaven is burning under bombs?)

I prefer walking

                       through the valley of the dead         


                                   biting my nails and mumbling

                                   something rhymed

                                               in the sleepy ear of time

than hearing passively

            the long preaching

            of the bearded priest

                       even if he sounds smart


yes, strike my cheek

I won’t feel bad—if that’s your will

You are my Christ after all

            and I love You

but that doesn’t change

                       my choice

to keep my armor on

till the end

            like a turtle

to never trust them

                       because if

                       they are truly wise

                       those bearded men

            why is that cloudaflame

                       like a singed lamb

            why doesn’t this storyend?

it was wrong from the beginning

(and don’t say no)


so I too will walk like a fool

biting my nails

            and dropping poisonous rhymes

            into the deaf ear of war

I am dreaming of Der Zor again

and we are running again—but this time

the Savior

is with us

            His eyes glaring with wrath

golden hair—it’s

the same Christ

at the height of his beauty—


looking left and right

            my ingenious grandmother

            smears mud

                                   on both of our faces

            and saves us

                       by pulling us under her wings

I walk and carry solemnly

                                   the heavy

silence of my grief

and nothing can be more painful

                       than the sun

in the unserious blues of the novice

            a laughing lantern at the center

indiscreet like hiccups

                       by the corpse of the young genius

            his one brow raised excessively

                                   like my father’s brow


I want to ask—“God?” and add nothing else

My memory—a blind plowshare

moves in the darkness

until it hits

a beloved bone

under the sand

and gets stuck . . . stops



Der Zor

an underground orphanage



I will stay here today

(I’m fixing the sand

            like my bed)

and I will sing a lullaby for those

whom I know from the photographs

of my family—

“this is your grandfather’s sister


with white teeth

like pearls

an angel she died

in the desert

you know . . . you look just like her?


this is Nato

with speckled eyes—a wing-clipped nightingale

you won’t ever hear a voice like hers”


(ah, dear God . . . how I love

my mother’s smile born out of pain

that briefly mingles with the light

before leaving her lips)


a lullaby for the angel Hushik

with white teeth like pearls

a lullaby for fair Nato

the wing-clipped nightingale of the desert

a lullaby for pretty Shushik

a lullaby for everyone


I rock

the colossal cradle—Der Zor

“I am your master,” vows Der Zor

(my second husband with a scimitar)

“I obey,” I lie for the sake of the bones

and I fake my caresses and kisses

            upon the guilty forehead of the desert

soon though

when the yellow devil falls asleep

I will tell you everything that happened


shhh . . . is he sound asleep—

do you hear his snoring?


I sink my right breast

                       into the sand

and wait until the last

newborn babe is fed

then I offer myself

passionately to the virgin boys

underneath the sand


now that everyone is happy

I can turn onto my back—

the sky is a Turkish flag

with a crescent moon and a star


“I am your master,” the echo of the words

is heard belatedly

“I obey,” I lie for the sake of the million and a half

in passing


the desert awakens in the morning

everything sings beneath the sand:

the wind sings the sweeping song

the ant sings the carrying song

the skeletons sing a horovel

a labor song under the sand

I will stay here today


here is the desert a century later

the sand is a hand-made cover

woven from the bones of my ancestors

pull one out and all will

come undone in rows—

the million and a half

one after another—

like the woolen shawl unraveling

in the nimble hands of my grandmother


my memory—a sand kaleidoscope

the bones rattle

forming first a star

then a triangle

finally a circle

and soon imperceptibly they turn

into a colorful polygon of light


here is the desert a century later

I close my eyes

and see the Lord

sunk in the sand up to His knees

trying to reach us

                       save us

that’s His job

but how. . ? you tell me . . . really—how?

First it is the ding-dong of the doorbell

                                               in my dream

            then the specter of the church—

            is someone painting the cross


or is it my priest grandfather bleeding

                                   on the cross?




what did Christ feel on the cross

after he was out of the trance

and when he understood

that pain is real

that the nail is really moving

in his bone


ding-dong—rings the sun

the only dialof the desert


the Lord wouldn’t have


my grandfather’s hallelujah with a shot

so who is greater

who is the mightiest of all?




three million feet


in my dream—

lifting above the sand

then falling back

onto the sand again

mocking the guards

like Lazaruses turned cynical from death



left-right repeats

the only juggler of the desert

the wind

mixes the bones

then rearranges them in another way

getting God knows how

the same result—

the same skeleton

                       each time

There is a river of blood which

the Bible never mentions

            —this is a parenthetical remark

in reality—I am tired of everything

I want to return to paradise

be shameless and naked like Eve

(my neck is choking in this dress of mourning)

I want to be a woman again

the eternal seducer in this story

I don’t want to be replicated

            as another Pietà

                       the mourning mother—cradling on her knees

            the dead body of her only son

                       I don’t want to live in vain

                                   climbing up

                                               like Sisyphus

                                                           the hill of war

I am telling you this—because I know—

I have been conversing with them in my dream

            calling their ghosts one by one to the table


for I have walked for forty days

            across the valley of the dead

to Der Zor

ready to strip naked for a palmful of water

(anguish does not always sublimate)

                       and I too have felt betrayed as a girl

I too have turned around and thrown

           my newborn into the Euphrates

           like a flower

My dear friend—

have you ever seen

            Van’s carmine sun

            the captive mountain

                                   from the Bible

            the abducted ark

                                   of the flood

            barbed wires around Eden?


have you seen a crazed moon

have you heard an interrupted hallelujah

            and a scream

that resounds for a century?

have you seen the sun walking on a tightrope

with one foot on the cross?

ah Tamar

have you heard the song of the lake

emerald waters in regret

or thehorovel—the plowing song

that begins

by praising the oxen and stretches

to the red of the horizon—

through the fields of gold?

you haven’t?

why then

are you looking as though

you have also seen

Van’s carmine sun

the granary

the gold

the wheat

the bride’s veil sailing

over the roof



my grandmother

all gathered in one circle dance?


having placed the last branch on their nest

by Mher’s door

two careless cranes

freely flirt in the sky—

            sorry . . . I thought you had seen

                        the wind . . .

                                   the bride’s veil . . .

                       my grandmother’s

            tender hair of happiness

            standing on end from the moonlight

I am a shepherd full of love—in my dream

sitting on top of a hill

            I play my flute and curly-haired sheep

                       gather around me

from all sides

            the small ones mount the big ones

                                   to see me


                                   at the center


I close my eyes and see myself ahead

resembling someone else




through the sand furnace of hell

            the wind strings

sharp thorns around my forehead

I am running

            in a long cotton shirt

                       rushing to some place

it’s me

there’s no doubt it’s me

                       but I look like someone else

—are you saying Christ?

(those are your words

I wouldn’t dare to compare myself to him)

but what really surprised me

                       was the abrupt transition

from reverie to nightmare

. . . The weightless images

of my childhood

are like gas-filled balloons—

the barn door was left open—ah!

the cows are flyingfreely

among the clouds . . .

that’s a dream—while the day

crawls stealthily

like a soldier and

moves forward

nobody speaks at the table

of my half-woman

half-bird grandmother

(a beautiful mythical Harpy)

who had lost her wings

in the desert—the Turk

had broken them first

then burned and scattered the ashes

      in the wind


it’s Thursday—the church is empty

we are alone at last

you and I

dear angel

you looking down

with a half-smile

from your safe height

the ceiling—


Nato wasn’t able to turn into half-bird


I have never seen her

never seen my grandmother

the red-haired beauty

not even in my dream

not even for half a second—do you understand?


forgive me

oh church angel

for my reproachful tone

my bitterness—

you are not to blame

for not knowing

            what happens to

the visceral sound of lamentation

                       after all

that’s so alien to you


becomes vulgar from pain

                       year after year—

when your mind instinctively digs

with its countless little teeth

into the voluble sand of the desert

I am the century-old bride

of the desert

            with blood-red eyes of a madwoman

            I was born out of the fair

maiden Tamar’s


taken from her with a scimitar


            today is my wedding—


            Der Zor surges with my veil

            as a single white whole

one and a half million ghosts

dance around me


that I stay here by their side

and of course I will stay

that’s a given

I have already buried my shoes

in the sand

and started hunting for my roots

at once

with the silver hooks of my heels


            today is my wedding—


            I am rooted in the middle

as a thistle

I won’t leave—

I am a tree


I am the desert from now on!



. . . according to the wedding custom—

I throw the bouquet of thorns

            over my shoulder


that it will disappear

in the black hole of the galaxy


I whirl on the sand

drawing circles with the edge of my skirt

I purr with my skin—my mouth closed

“I am debauched like old Rome”


I am half-woman half-cat in this moment

*my elegance is not mere show but it has purpose

my dance is not mere exercise but it’s a stairwell

that spirals me up to heaven


like a young Aztec who thirsts for death

I will fight with my colorful feathered arrows

and maybe fall after a thousand years

(like Rome)

but I’ll never be defeated on a battlefield


my elegance is not a mere show . . .

it’s my ancestors’ battle cry

a feline tattoo on my face . . . reprisal . . . instinct . . .

all the circles on the ground are signs

brought from a distant place—the past


the circle has no beginning and no end

an eternity on the edge of my skirt

it’s not easy, if not impossible, to defeat me . . .

I belong to the tribe . . . of dancers

Careful . . .

            tread carefully in the desert


this is not just sand


this is . . . a white sand bandage

on one million and a half dreams


you want to know the exact number of the dead?

            that’s not difficult . . .

sift the sand of the desert

                       with a fisherman’s net



            the terror-stricken eyes

            and divide that number by two


you wish to know the details

                       of their dreams?


put your ear to the sand

             and like a chamber orchestra

the bone flutes

                       will play their song


            the flutes will play incessantly


                       one million and a half ghosts

will sway on the sand


            with yellow . . . toothless smiles

until . . . until the first human footsteps

will be heard from afar


                       you know . . . here . . . in the desert

the ghosts

            don’t believe . . . in people

I was born of men

(there’s no doubt about that)

            but I was . . . probably . . .

nursed by panthers . . . later

and now I always see a forest

in my dreams

and beasts with shiny teeth


you know that the lion

                       is the god

of jungles . . .

there are no angels


no saints or Satan


we are saved or destroyed


                       by a shot

and our daily bread

is always

            stained with blood


I was born of men . . . no doubt

            but a lion nursed me—



            why do I pray with four hands

                       like a beast

and see jungles

            in my dreams?

From afar . . .


the field


a green

chess board

with stone




from up close


the fedayis

clandestinely smiling from

the rows

of tombstones



posing for

their last year’s

high school photograph—

they are

holding their breath . . .


. . . as if holding their breath



by miracle

a crown of thorns


around my head

who would I


of all these men

to be Lazarus?


while in my dream


in my dream

the green board of chess

and my crown of







were covered in snow


in my dream




and after

dusting the snow

from the soldier’s face

with my fingertips

drew a cross






the stone


after dusting the snow . . . drew a cross

after dusting the snow . . . drew a cross


my dream

was short

like a winter



I wasn’t able

to save

anyone . . .

When finally

the hot lead night

of the last judgment falls


I know I will miss. . .

the past

when the world was still flat

like a meadow


there were no mountains

of anguish


the past. . . filled with the scent of apple


when the gods

were more sinful

than men

competing with magical powers

out of boredom


every dead man

was a potential Lazarus


when finally

the hot lead night

of the last judgment falls


the elephant blows

his meaty trumpet

in the empty void


for the last time


I know I will miss . . .

those times . . .

As April languidly draws near

my dreams become


filled with screams

of fugitive



the impudent groans

of beasts


it’s already April in the garden

the sand reddens in my dream

my sorrow is a boundless savanna

where the grass is taller than me

like a camel’s memory my memory


a discolored saddlebag

filled with distorted images—

the rest is all water




it’s the last week of April

my dream turnscochineal red—

there are fezzed thorns in the desert—

thousands of severed tongues

secretly pray

                       under the sand


who says

that dreams

are sterile?


I have been


by the same

white-haired dream

soaring in the sky

from the other side of the river

that recurs

in sleep or in wakefulness


an obsessive

idea that repeats

in the mind of a madman



who says

that dreams

are harmless?


the snow-capped

dust of dream

interrupts my


(every five minutes)


an advertisement reel


I . . . am not crying

it’s just that


something oozes

from the depths of my soul

and like a suppurating

wound on a thumb

my burning eyes

throb numbly

at the moment of the dream



who says

that dreams

are sterile?


what are you

looking at?



you seen

someone who

has the same recurring dream—

a mountain crest

in each eye


I am not crying




my eyelids

freeze and hang over

the cold mountain crest

at the moment of contact


leave me alone . . . I said!


do you want to see

like a Turk wearing a fez

what someone with a recurring dream

looks like

from the other side of the river?

Nietzsche was right

God is dead


only I

like Electra

can’t accept

my father’s death


my mind rummages

day and night

for new



humph-pshhhh—my mother is fast asleep

on the chair

her one eye open

I mute the TV

rock-a-bye mother



the sky parade

is still on mute

(the soldiers are falling

without a sound)

dozens of iron


with bombs in their beaks


under their wings


I wonder if this is the hell

that my grandmother once described

with dread    


as if flirting with the tank

the soldier’s shadow is

on the tank

now it’s under the tank—

the news reporter

smiles as usual


it’s not the first time

whenan explosion

has transposed the shadows

(an April gathering in Glendale Park)


Like melancholy eyelids

the clouds


over the sky’s immobile face


the angry beggar wind


the nose of each passer-by

with a bag of sorrow


the limp chairs

in the garden


the dust of

rusted memories

around the warped tables

and like decrepit old men

without looking into each other’s eyes

they tell

stories to no one

and forget them right away




the black shadows

outside the window

like trained hunting dogs

drag slowly

the “wisemen” in dark glasses

in different directions


the soil is saturated

with coagulated blood


the wild procession

of skilled



a slow-motion


in an old




a new garland


on the ashes of defeated hope




like a practiced

mother departs

from the bedside

of a sleeping child


don’t wake the child . . .


what day is today?

My mind

is a broken camera

the tape keeps rolling

with a rustling sound—

everything is gray

or black

except for uncoagulated blood


everything quivers

and then it’s gone     

my grandfather’s house on the hill

the Van cat

my aunt’s lace bridal veil

flies over the roofs

and is miraculously saved

in the neighbor’s



then the chest full of gold

jumps into the fireplace and disappears

like a chest in a cartoon


the rest is scratched out and all is artifice—

history is a whore

and April—a squeezing belt

around her waist


cross-bearing bodies

lie crisscrossed on top of each other

in twos—

then a brief spell of silence

and again

my grandfather the priest

looks at me quizzingly

from the altar


will Obama say “Genocide”

after the war



my grandmother in the meantime


and appears

on the embroidered pillow

with washable colors


on her side

is the odd-eyed Van cat

with a green and a blue eye

Keep everything that you took . . . Lord

my prosperous house full of laughter

on the hill

my country of gardens

the gold


but give me back my desert


I want to fence it in

weed out the thorns and make even meadows

on my knees

(like my grandmother sewing blankets)




I want to clean

the desert

(like a family burial ground)


with abundant soap and pure water

immediately after the muddy rains


don’t be silent . . ! I can see you

—it’s late

(yellow camouflage mantle

thorns on your head

small bones tangled in your beard)


try to protect the tombstone

from the forgetful Turkish wind at least


I’ll put a piece of gold

in your velvet-covered plate

from time to time

on Sundays

Universe—predator-mother, the death of offspring . . .


Like a female predator

the Universe

assaults me from all sides

and to save myself

like Whitman’s hero

I transform


into whatever I see


my eyes are dazzling suns

my hair stretched upward

diffuses into infinity


as a boundless web

with a single glimpse—


are in me

I spring shut with a snap

as a hunter’s trap

escape seems useless

we are trapped in each other’s snare,

I am compassion



two stars—in the dimples of my cheeks

Your gaze

is mine already


close Your eyes, Lord . . . I will not leave

I will stay inside of you like Mher

I will wait as long as it will take

though I am slightly


(or memories on a Russian winter night)


Have you heard

of the Tunguska blast

one hundred years ago?

the meteor

that didn’t strike Earth

it’s true

but that razed the forest                   

to the ground—

a deer was killed in the blaze

and a hunter’s clothes

were caught on fire

while he was aiming his gun


in the winter nights

that deer often appears

hanging above my head

cold and big as an enemy’s fist

and the hunter too caught

in his own fire of hell


I tell him—friend . . . do you realize

that Tunguska was one of millions?

and had it slowed down for another five hours

it would have razed the city to the ground . . .


and what of the sky?

the sky was unusually bright that day

though they say there was no moon above . . .

nor sun



The beginning—

the word

has been refuted

by intrigues



the poison trickles into the father’s ear

these are the last days of ancient Rome it seems


all the things

that I love—




come in twos

and go under my eyelids

as if entering Noah’s ark


and I transport all into another place


everything seems a repetition

empire . . . poison . . . conspiracy


like Claudius

ingenious and concerned

I pretend to be feeble-minded

weak in the knees

and I twitch like a fool

only not to be killed

only to stay alive


save all of this

from ruin

It’s a mirage and a cross-patterned


without a church though—

                       it’s more like décor

            I open and enter

                                   the desert


Der Zor—the sand

                       is yellow


like dead water

I’m Scheherazade—

I tell a story to the thorns

at dawn the sand gifts me

                       a golden necklace

I should be going—sisters


it’s getting late

            bless your century-old slumber

what potion should I drip

                       into the sand’s ear

for you to have sweet dreams?

Each time

when my soul slips

                                   out of my body

I see

                       the still innocent desert

the city of Van—the church

                                   beyond the gates

            the silver body of the Savior on the wall

and my grandfather’s gaze

                       straight into the eyes of Christ

            as if staring at a broken watch

I see the impossible attempt

                       with which he tried nevertheless

                                   to fathom

                                               the unmoving eternity

of time—

           tried to grasp

the right angleof the sunray

           falling on his eyelid

that was there before God


now when

the choice is mine

when the Lord is with me


and you are gone

tell me—should I ascend

leaning against the priest’s grandiloquent prayer

(so innocent . . . inexperienced and young)


                       should I descend

                                   digging into the ground like a worm

                                   from under your tombstone all the way down?


please tell me—go down!—I beg of you

don’t let me err a second time

            let’s decompose together

under the feral sun

                                   of Yerevan

I never


the field of politics

my quarrel

has always

been with the heaven

but I wished


so often

to spit on the face

of some heartless prince

or . . . curse him


I know . . .

this conduct is unbecoming of me    

(my realm is the beautiful

I know . . .)


but dear friend

is art worth

my lying

or mixing facts with dreams?



to the requiem of the poets’ armies

moving in the night

with durable rope

in their pockets


this night is . . . indeed . . . not romantic at all

(the cloud won’t turn

into an angel)

instead look over

there . . .

the tower of Babel is rising

Wait for a little bit—

sad willow

and eternal stars


today my song

is about the endless

row of beggars

with tattered hats

and about the widow

of the fedayi who

fell in the battlefield

a month after their wedding

about the widow who died

on the cold metal table

when giving birth


ivory moon

flickering stars


today my song

is about the orphan

who leaves the maternity ward


and about the world

which inherited

his hands

resembling the poor man’s

tattered hat—

stop for a second

the line

of aborted motherhood


I want to see

the face of the woman

who died

a minute before

being reborn

one more time


but you . . . must wait


my song today

is about the weary

absent God

and about the child

who inherited

his orphanhood

as an incurable





and azure skies


today my song

is only about the orphan

at birth

It was morning—


of the glorious mornings

in the valley of Ararat


my fore-



left the cave


never came back


I’m excavating time with a pickaxe in my hand


I can’t find the Golden Age

or the Bronze Age

but only the Prehistoric Age . . .


there he is with a stone in his pocket


“cursed be he

who invented the first weapon!”


my fore-


foremother with a hairy chin (in my dream)

“cursed be he . . . be he”

echoes the cave

“. . . be he”


I gathered the curse in my mouth

and awoke


it was morning—


glorious morning

in the valley of Ararat

A translucent virgin

with loose hair and naked

in the moment of escape


hits the sunbeam

and falls down


a ten-armed



like a scythe

rises and falls

on the sands

of the still desert


April is approaching

and my dreams are filled again with

long-haired girls running

toward the Aras


April is approaching—

and the desert breathes like

a wild beast

in lust

I am on this side of the Arax


with my grandmother’s doll

that survived miraculously

hidden under her


with a terrified gaze



for me the border

is a river—

my gaze drowns

before reaching the shore


I am left with nothing but language

to lick the recedingshore

like a wound


. . . and the land tells me everything


we are still on this side of the Arax

me and my survivor doll

who like my mother is a virtuoso

in talking without words

Hold my hands!


I woke up

with a pain of loss

a bitter taste

of dried blood

on my lips


I woke up

with a silent plea

of unblinking eyes

a clenched fist


wild urge

of a murderer


free my hands!



I rarely get

very angry

but when I do

the ground shakes

under my feet

I am not afraid of

the road

going right

or upward

as aninfant I have passed

through a narrower path

four inches wide—

I don’t need anything



but war


neither do I need

a ready-made heaven

with a pruned

apple-scented garden

like a fragrant flower

rising from waste

(turning the stench into a pleasant odor)

I would rather go to hell



with my own hands

the cycle of torment

into happiness


it’s time to go . . . farewell!


I embrace my old mother

one last time

happy knowing

that my sisters

are wiser and more practical than me

and so I can be a little



like a long-haired hippy

all I need is some hashish

ecstasy and justice


but can’t you hear

the sound of bombs . . . ?

the senseless barking of a moonstruck dog?

(or is it a soldier coughing behind his mask?)


nothing frightens me

I swear

nothing frightens me

but fear

(geniuses dissolved in the sand)


Is the color of crime

yellow too . . . God?

the same golden yellow

as in Der Zor?

so bright that even

your omniscient eye missed it?


I forgive you . . . well, you didn’t know

but can’t you at least

caress the sand

with your flowing yellow fingers

when the Turk is praying

with his head bowed down

at breakfast?


sand that has unwittingly

become a genius


I am a woman


from this day on

I declare you

my personal enemy


why bother to explain . . ?

I create children

while you kill them




that’s it!

from now on

I will fight against you

by swinging

my aesthete-surgeon’s

sharp knives

in the air


like a Japanese chef

cutting onions

in the kitchen



very thin

until you turn liquid

and flow down

                       from the cutting board

                       from the table

                       from my eyes


then I’ll drink you

(ah . . . I’ll drink you greedily)


like an enemy’s blood


better yet

I’ll give you away in small 

opaque flasks

to the women of this planet

as an immortal drink


I roll the papers on my table

into an angel’s trumpet

and sing (like an opera singer)

my final will toheaven—


“I don’t need you eternity!

I’d rather live another five-ten years

with another nose that’s much thinner”

One year later

the radioactive man


to his destroyed city

of radioactive ghosts

where the only thing that’s working

is the traffic light device—

indifferent to the catastrophe

it continues to change colors

signaling “go” and “stop”

though there’s no one

in this city

besides the cow

that gave birth to a calf (larger than normal)

and now pushes him away

from her udder (larger than normal)

and I wonder if radiation

heightens the maternal instinct

in cows—

is the mother trying to keep her babe away

from the lethal milk—

or is it the opposite?—

the radiation

has totally killed

maternal instinct

after one year


to understandthis

I read the gaze

of the only man

who walks among the ruins

quiet and reserved—as God himself

and the city beneath his feet

is like

a Noah’s ark

filled with rotting beasts

in twos

and I think

of the man-made end

of the Earth






these are questions that keep me up all night

The Greeks built citadels

Moses climbed Mount Sinai

the apostles preached

the martyrs suffered greatly

Narekatsi spoke with the Creator

Bach expanded the universe

Komitas raised the plow to the heavens


and yet another hungry child goes to sleep today

yet another cherry garden is bombed again

yet another woman goes to bed loveless . . .


it turns out . . . all of that was not enough . . . Pablo

(we still have a lot to do both you and I)

but I have slipped out of time

I have gone mad

I only respond to the ghost

and the gentle voices coming from the past


do you remember my story

about the paradise (vacation)

on the sea

the color of Mary’s dress?


everything was a lie there


except for the captain’s curse


teach me

how to stretch so gracefully

through the loveless days of nine lives

and yawn

without regrets


the cloud has turned a strange red

—do you hear?

they’re calling you . . . from heaven


have you loved your neighbor

as yourself


have you turned the other cheek?


take mein your mouth—

and secretly raise me too


you are my only hope


how good it is under your tongue


I wish I could stay

right here

I remember

so vividly

the whispered talk under the wall

of the boys standing shoulder to shoulder

and then—

                       the turning of their heads abruptly

all at the same time

(like birds

perched on a frozen clothesline)

and then

my accelerated steps

as if carried by the wind

and it’s true—I don’t remember

           their names now

and I’ve never really known their names

                                   they were the boys from our yard

            but I’d recognize them with closed eyes

and I’d distinguish from all the winds

                                               the one

                       born from the abrupt movement of their heads

            turning synchronously

                                   at once

fluttering my pelvis

                                   all the way to the bus station



            of course I’d recognize them

even now—I can strain my eyes

                       and see them

                                               as they are today

                                               on that same worn-down street

still whispering

            those boys from the yard all dressed in black

                                   like women mourning

                                               animaginary corpse