51WAdCuzIpL._SX372_BO1,204,203,200_Editorial note: Two of the following poems are from Silva Merjanian’s poetry collection, Rumor (Cold River Press, 2015). The final poem is a new one.  Proceeds from the sale of Rumor go to the Syrian-Armenian Relief Fun.


Outside, desert air licks tents with an icy tongue
creeping under pegs unto the sand floor
where she waits morning, legs squeezed, trembling tight
her mother’s warm breath with a hint of onion and lentil smell
brushes on her face, calms tremor of awake nightmares
her sister’s knees dig into small of her back

she tucks her cold feet under her aunt’s ample buttocks
finds comfort and safety in the call of unwashed bodies
familiar, earthy, sweat of family in deep disturbed sleep
on worn beige mattresses pressed side by side

a limb resting on her distended bladder feels heavy
she knows she has to hold it in, till light leaks
from between clouds bearing down, birthing morning relief
over a tense night battling more than a winter’s wrath

it is not safe to walk at night to the makeshift bathroom outside
her father had said, not even holding mother’s hand
she remembers the stars as they faded one by one with each thrust
when strange men tore into her that night, their moans mocking whimpers
escaping through large fingers pressing on her mouth

she feels the sting first, between her bruised thighs
before the wet warmth soaks through her pink pajamas
darkening with yellow and red princess patterns
into the coarse mattress, where her siblings lie
entangled in fading dreams of home

She couldn’t hold, she is after all only eight years old

Collateral Damage

Morning arrives charred
served on a disassembled night
its curled edges, ashes on waking eyes
no smoke in sight, no trace
where old mistakes aspirate donated lungs
burked storms under soft pillows
plump with the geese not the feather

as if a night could not satiate viscera of dreams with its cant
as if doubt drains into power pipelines as tear ducts dry
and conscience blazes in defiance fueled bonfires

had you not heard panting in medicated doldrums of their minds
had their stuttered remorse turned the soft soil of tomorrow
had you not loved only to stay alive
morning would have arrived perky and bright
and you too would have heard the finch outside
instead of the crackling of the fire

Second Change

There’s a lone seabird pacing the seashore
there’s a nursery rhyme curdling sullied sand
there’s a woman sobbing beneath my ribs
a wolf negotiating a truce with its tails
there’s a poet with a voice low and gentle
his words macerate in spit of death

it is not pomegranate bleeding from their lips
but pleas soiling the seas licking lacerated waves
Damascus festers in a shallow grave
dogs digging bones, prayers and jasmine sprigs

it is 3 am in California and my room is lit soft yellow
by a moon I befriended with no strings attached
and lullaby of the Pacific falls on my covers
yet the woman beneath my ribs still weeps

there’s an empty crib among olive trees
a distance I cross on a seabird’s dream
there’s a traumatized moon lying in my lap
a feral woman fracturing my ribs
pleading deities for a second chance

– Silva Merjanian

© 2015, poems and book cover art, Silva Merjanian, All rights reserved

5 thoughts on “Rumor

  1. The first poem was very very disturbing because of the sheer authenticity of experiences as depicted in it. What world is this that a eight year old has to live with such horrors . How quirky that our patriotism and our religious allegiances are measured by our readiness to kill and maim and terrorise other human beings.

    “it is 3 am in California and my room is lit soft yellow
    by a moon I befriended with no strings attached
    and lullaby of the Pacific falls on my covers
    yet the woman beneath my ribs still weeps”

    How beautifully you juxtapose the tranquility that should rightfully be ours and the sadness caused by the warring world that shatters it.

    Very , very well written poems.


  2. Beautifully executed, painfully felt. Vivid renderings of the suffering and ultimately – in a sense – lack of refuge for those who have been forced to wander. Would that we could change it, get that second change. Worthy works, Silva, memorable. A compelling experience.


  3. Silva, these are incredibly strong poems that open us up to the darker shadows of the refugee world. Still, the strong, feral woman breaks out and pleads for a second chance—I see those pleas as righteous demands, but we don’t demand from the deities, do we? Powerful poetry. Thank you.


  4. These were so vivid, Silva. Honestly, they depressed me and made me wish I could help more women and children in those parts of the world. It seems that the women and children suffer so much more than the men. Perhaps that is not the case, but it sure does appear that was from the outside. Thank you for allowing us a true (albeit painful) glimpse into daily life of those less fortunate. It is eye-opening and you write very, very well.


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