Doves were arrogant in those days
feral, territorial of ledges
I hadn’t snapped their necks yet
through grind of metal
on bone, stone
through air sharpened on greed hones
no scream left in punctured lungs
fate duct -taped to fetal nights
barricaded behind shadowed ribs
that hardly rose for a fight
underneath rubble of lord’s prayer and adhan

they pecked at concrete
heads bobbing, waiting
waiting
they knew I’d come
they knew I’d tire of walking
your curved dead -end streets

I knew those ledges well
gravel and loose feathers
wet with rain
stuck with white droppings
to my young toes curled on grit

but I knew your streets below better
lick of diesel on asphalt
grief’s iron reek in gutters rising
damp alleys breathing
breathing
the way the old do
those who’d seen the blade
cut through flesh
a sigh every third inhale
a pause before funneling
jasmine and mold laced gasps
into patched veins
tied to the stone
tied to throbbing ground
with historical claims
to the sea breeze
that couldn’t cool their burns
still rummaging for life
as they used to remember it

I walked on sweat of fig trees
on your sidewalks bleeding at cracks
when you had the pigeon for dinner
and I starving, gnawed on bones
where I’d tied my message
pleading for your unclutched claws
on my debt

I hear you like your whores younger these days
and you rather have your sons as killers
blind and foaming revenge at mouth
darbouka between their knees dropped for guns

streets mapped in bite marks
on time I served now dyed ash blond
I look away
the way the old do
eyes on the distance to your bleeding ledge

– Silva Merjanian

© 2014, poem, Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, All right reserve; poem is excepted from “Rumor,” Silva’s second poetry collection.  Both Silva and publisher, Cold River Press, are donating all profits from the sale of this book to Syrian-Armenian Relief Fund

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