TAKE THIS DYING WALTZ
A valentine poem
Silva Zanoyan Merjanian
Take this waltz it’s
been dying for years
across the wood table the city slouches on a chair,
its yawn beneath Cohen’s dying waltz, it
took to every
intimate yet, nor strangers to conversation tangled
stammer of this rain,
the way midnight stretches cold and naked
us, in the kitchen’s florescent glare.
You translate my voice to fit on your cracked walls,
losing the cadence
in vowels, longings, graffiti regrets,
and a new lie dressed in lace strays from my lips into streets
a dozen long -stem roses, tips curling ‘round wilting
You say the moon's overpriced when vulnerable and in a
as I sign yet another card Love of your life.
Between the city’s knees, our song still plays.
My Funny Valentine
stops loneliness from crawling up varicose veins on this quotidian
Under the table I shed
glitter like dander from past
breathing on my neck.
2. WRITER’S BLOCK
for a poet replanted
I thought I had you by frilled hem of a metaphor,
flood of yellow fog
hushes me again to a mere doubt in your
We are diverging.
Your flare escapes fingertips,
turns corners and crosses streets,
collides with slippery notes of Blue Café
playing in a city that echoes
Take all you know, and say goodbye,
your innocence, inexperience
mean nothing now.
a poem dying on the sidewalk.
We will bury it with the rest.
It starts to rain.
What’s a poem without rain?
I lose you in the downpour of words
slit and gutted to this city’s taste.
You say, write the streets
flatten you against a wall,
see the gutter fill with regret.
Write the river
drown in the rising water
You let go of the wind,
it's taken you high and dropped you
A poem like that is road - kill at best.
I've seen your white collarbone at 3 am
and you've seen my hysteria when alone,
our footsteps swept from the streets,
appear again in verses, wander in alleys
picking shame with the trash.
A city does not forget shame.
never make it home.
Write, write the homeless till you are one
let an alley cradle your ribcage.
With the smell of an animal in my hair,
your lust till it’s dry semen
stuck to a sole after the train’s departed.
But a city never
forgets heave of a moment
cut like a butcher's blade.
Write! Damn you, write the longing!
It burns, it burns where a scar runs on edge of a
to a heart and
to between-lines, only a night
drunk on a full
a poem takes you home,
puts you to bed alone,
you hear the city turn to its side,
face the wall where the street- light
doesn't reach at all,
and crows flutter in your throat,
looking for a way out,
they die on a line clenched between molars.
wakes up in a dream on your tongue,
and you swallow your raw words.
writer’s block, when dawn
tells you of all this, while sober and free
of the night’s spell.
In honor of Aylan Kurdi, Syrian child who drowned
in the Aegean Sea
Dedicated to all mothers who lost children to war
There's a lone seabird pacing the
there’s a nursery rhyme curdling
there’s a woman sobbing beneath my
a wolf negotiating a truce with
There’s a poet with a voice low and
words macerate in spit of death.
It is not pomegranates bleeding from
but pleas soiling seas licking
Damascus festers in a shallow grave,
dogs digging bones, prayers, jasmine
It is 3 am in California, and my room
is lit soft yellow
by a moon I befriended with no strings
and lullaby of the Pacific falls on
yet the woman beneath my ribs still
There’s an empty crib among olive
distance I cross on a seabird’s
a traumatized moon lying in
feral woman fracturing my ribs,
pleading deities for a second chance.
(The BeZine Bardo Group Beguines)
all that happened
(and didn’t happen)
packed in mental mothballs
stories fading with licked creases
some reduced and softer versions
wonder why I preserve breaths
forced through my lungs in those days
stringed around the eye of a hurricane
circling, demonic, nameless
shaking me shameless for a day
on nights when
a collective sigh stings
I can’t tell
which tale will
toll for me
and which nocturnal
will lift the dust
through endless times
on a pink tip of my tongue
afraid to bite a dreamt memory
that it might hemorrhage
bleed the night
I want a dripping
whiff of that afternoon coffee
bitter, solemnity and hot
minutes when lonely hearts
an arching cease fire
time hovered among us
enough for my mother
build castles in my cup
the man flying his doves
on the roof across two streets
remains a blur
the doves stirring the air
perfect shades of unison
had named them after heroes long forgot)
sometimes still raise dust in my room
of their feathers’ aches and plight
I could break
would break away
I did one day
the doves were left to die
at dusk my father played the mandolin
and my mother’s voice filled all the gaps
between our breaths -
the dam that held surpluses of war
long enough for us to shed in dreams
why do I long for hell
when I can’t
sieve my sigh from the wind’s eye
and I wonder if I ever broke away
from a circle named dead doves
scent of jasmine
smells like home
back home in
5. SAINTS IN MY RAIN
I learned the rain in cursive slants
lying on doubts
spread on the sacred and not
spread on my bed, my pillow, my
the crust of every lie I loved
tainted with silver sliver of your
I turned that night on its back
after you went to bed
your streets indebted
to shadows of restless dreams
bruising on its replaced ribs
where trash collectors compress
in the ruble
life’s severed limbs
an envy here
a longing there
a nothingness holier than my prayers
and I add
that face without the lips
under the face with muffled shame
under the face I used to have
on heaps of unfinished poems
a lemon tree and jasmine
colored and scented at my fingertips
I learned the rain in every lie
in stammer of your pavements
where Saints gather in line at rock
between my howl and a crow’s black
dripping prayers on St Rita’s
she sympathizes but says tonight she
owns the ledge
there’s always mad laughter at the
foot of beds
where Saints sleep on their sides
facing the drapes
that catch the city’s quieting breath
under street lamps
that catch impelled compromise
in bourbon shots and blues on a
as lonely as you
that time when you asked my name
sometimes I tell you
long after you’ve gone to bed
Tonight a thousand eyelids will close on beautiful
lips will sleep unkissed
sultry blue jazz in the dark
tonight lust will blister on menopausal gritty tongues
and blind vultures will circle parameters of a
tonight middle-aged men will look for love in midtown bars
and women selling artificial flavors to the tune of
tonight poets will find the words to color their
and dip their pens in wounds
that aren’t even
tonight somewhere it will rain on wingless birds
their love songs mending broken pillows in high
tonight she will step out with her hair down, in
blow a kiss with naked lips through the door
tonight, tonight’s no different than any other
the walls are thin, the moon
is skinned, blindfolds
7. RAIN HAD NO SCENT IN GENEVA IN
Rain was relentless in November.
Cobblestones in Geneva carried
echoes as if greetings in foreign
panes on the Rive Gauche.
stalked scuffed heels
with a drenched hiss,
on rain’s exhale, then curved
in ashtrays on Rue de Rhone,
and faces I met,
melted nameless on fogged windows
of crowded cafés.
trading one envy with another.
None of them mine.
feet drifted in glazed-eye
debris, wailing, prayers for peace
rising in rainwater
along Beirut’s deserted streets.
I, still had hail in my shoes
from Rue Mexique.
were damp from inside.
deliquesced in fantasies
rain often brought with scent
Always Jasmine... vestige of spring
lingered there in our dreams.
And cigarettes yet to be smoked
were hidden behind history books
on a shelf, where hope was tucked
and forgotten by daylight.
Most days, at half past four
November smelled of the sea
evidence of bloodshed
on its floor.
On Rue de Rhone
nothing had scent in November.
I could not tell the way back home
when there was no fear
shedding bread crumbs,
no panic sweat
oozing from ancient sidewalks,
no story to tell after dark;
I hadn’t been yet to the rooftops
to watch a city come alive,
to watch it catch my fall
and place me on a ledge
changing the color of my eyes.
Geneva eyed me from a distance,
on bare shins,
mocking the loneliness
dripping from an umbrella
held too tight.
He'd said, turn right
the chestnut stand
and go straight,
you can’t miss Eaux-Vive 2000,
turn that corner
I'll be there.
By 6 pm the corner -stand man
from whom I’d bought
warming my heart and hands,
had folded walls of his smile
washed the pavement
and gone home.
Turn right … turn right...
picked the spot
where I’d left my mother’s
farewell; a balcony in Beirut
where once I hung
from wooden pegs
on dead roots
across from ghosts gapping
at wounds on their chests,
across from doves missing
on TV antennas on rooftops,
across from all she could not say
but added to jars of sumac,
tomato paste she’d
and insisted I take with me on the plane.
I turned and left behind 25 years,
her outworn womb,
her blue eyes wet as the rain
when she sang for us
Zepouyri Nman, (Like a Breeze)
knowing nothing of Geneva’s
bise, nor how to bend that wind at
Rue de Rhone - a
beautiful street on
Rive Gauche in Geneva.
Rue Mexique - a street I grew up on, in
Bise - a cold dry north wind of southern France,