Two Poems in Cultural Weekly

Kid Napping

I have 30 minutes before the children awake,
wrinkled thumbs soaked,
eyes small with sleep. I sit
under one of California’s oldest oak trees
with the video monitors next to me.
I lift a cigarette to my lips and digress
to the smell of my mother’s hair as she lifts
me, wet with tears and urine, tangled
in soaked sheets and blankets.
Not even two, I was left
asleep. My parents walked over
to Avo’s for a round of cribbage.
20 minutes now, and the children rustle.
I hustle another cigarette out of my purse
and listen to the rescue copters circling
Millard Canyon where hikers go missing every week.
Millard, where the native Hahamog’na lived
before Portola made his messy bed there.
10 minutes, and the crow circles the nests
where my friend the Blue Jay just fed her newborns.
It is May, that mother of all months,
when the Arroyo dries up, children skip classes
and everyone leaves their windows open
for the cool breeze to steal in from the coast.
They are cooing now, but I was screaming alone
that night before they came for me, rushing in together,
eyes big with worry, huddled over me like conspirators
as they unwrapped me gently with their sorry hands.

 

***

Obligatory Grandmother Poem

Whether we ever knew them, whether
they held our hands or burned their bras,
somehow they silently grow into our poems
like gypsum, each one a different color and shape.

We credit them for our idiosyncrasies and diseases,
the likes of which haunt us the same way
their perfume covers everything.

I dare you to think of one pop song
written about old granny, one priceless
work of art reimagining her toothless smile.
Yes, we are sentimental fools,

but writers cringe from cliché,
and a grandmother poem is automatic death
unless she’s Norma Rae.
I pray to you please honor her another way.

Find that tourmaline necklace she passed on,
and wear it for a change. Read her old love letters
to your son, bake her a cake, give your daughter
that god-awful name so popular way back when

she had to store away her feelings like rationed sugar
during that war she suffered through. I remember too
my sweet namesake unbraiding her long dark hair
in her tidy white bedroom. All she ever did

was suffer at the hands of a spoiled husband.
All she wanted was to die, and she passed
that on to me as well. What kind of writer
would I be if I hid that from you

and only wrote poems about her Christmas cookies
and that time she taught me how to crochet?

Advertisements

Thank you to Life and Legends for publishing “The Hollow Women”

 

http://lifeandlegends.com/armine-iknadossian/

The Hollow Women

“Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow” (T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men)

A.

We are the hollow women.
We are the stuff men leave behind.
Laden with ill-begotten parcels,
our voices crack the firmament
like spider webs. We are quite mysterious
as we digress from the conversation,
return to the table, eat off a hand-held mirror

Sit with us, and you will see our shaded
landscape of tapestries and fruit trees.

Silence has started to return the lies,
but our debt is not what we cling to.
Dismember us; we will not tell.
Night is lost, but only as the hollow women.
The stuff men leave behind.

B.

As if I had a seat
in their free kingdom,
in their civil potential.
There, sons and daughters
climb into their father’s lap.
There, bees get stuck in sonnets,
and women are busy
winding grandfather clocks.
Near misses, near so many
thinly-veiled discretions.

Limit me, and tear
the kingdom limb from limb.
Limit me, and all is not well.
Fat, bloated, no skin, no nails
In between beheaded and dead
No tears –

No tears in their free kingdom.

C.

This is Dad’s land,
badlands cut like diamonds
free from tongues in cheeks,
free from the suck of implication,
from the fatherly burden of proof.

I sit like this
in the free kingdom.
I sometimes walk alone at night,
arm in arm with a ghost,
bumping hips with foreign
patterns and mortal coils.

D.

We women. We realize fear
where there is no fear.
Indestructible.
Highs and lows.
I bequeath this ball and chain
to their kingdom.
Endless fasts.
We grew up together
on a beach void of tombs.
A multitude of lonely men
in shirtsleeves.
Trite anomalies.

E.

We will not sing for you.
We will not sing in the morning,
in the evening or in the afternoons.
You ask, “For whom is the kingdom?”
But we ask, “For whom is the conception?”
You have so many in-betweens,
as if we fall for falling’s sake.
But life is not as long as you think,
and your world, our world, their world
will not end in the sense you think it will,
like a starved dog or a mewling infant.
It will end when we say.

*****

 

My collaborative poem “A History of Tears” in Entropy Magazine. Thank you to Terry Wolverton for the invite to take part in this mind-altering process.

“The Hollow Women” as published in Life and Legends (5th Edition)

Read my poem “The Hollow Women”http://lifeandlegends.com/armine-iknadossian/ published in the very special edition: From the Cradle of Civilization: Contemporary Arabic Poetry

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis, Robbi Nester and the rest of the Life and Legends editorial team need an award! They deserve much thanks and hurrahs for their work with Arab writers from around the world. Read my piece “The Hollow Women” and read an interview with Robert Pinsky! I am thrilled to be published alongside Nathalie Handal, Sam Hamod and other exemplary poets.

Four Poems in Angels Flight • literary west

I am thrilled to announce some good news in my little life. Thank you to Michele Raphael, David Lott and Sherilyn Lee for entrusting me with the associate poetry editor position at AFLW. I hope to learn a lot from these brilliant humans. Here are some of my poems for you to check out on the last day of Black History Month.

Today, I Vote

I blow into empty eye sockets
and hear the whistle of the slave mind;
the hive mind.
 
When the earth shivers, her spine loosens,
contracts, releases, contracts.
We all stumble around like flees
in her jungles and forests.
We hold on to both sides of the lifeboat
as we flow into her angry breast
 
Today, the appeals go unanswered,
the rummage sale for Syrian villages and young women.
 
And everyone will join hands and cheer,
“We defeated fascism! Yay for us! We did good!”
while rubber bullets bruise the Natives,
while slave labor continues in prisons,
while refugees wash up on the shores.
 
Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
That’s not an election; that’s extortion.
 
And hey white women,
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
How many I VOTED stickers will be placed on her tombstone?
 
Today a girl in Gaza makes buildings out of ash
(this is not a metaphor).
Her name is Majd Al-Masharawy,
and she calls the bricks Green Cake.
Green like grass and money.
Cake like rich, sweet desserts.
I would like to vote for Majd.
How much sugar can I send her?
I would like to send her all the sugar in the world.