as in the night that wrecked my hands, a city of crows daggered through the sky. as in a skull of complex nightmares, the black owl of my mouth, a box of dreams for strangling. as in hope, as in my mother’s voice, as in we avoided the mouth of a door forced open. as in the quiet voice of god crashing through the lifeless, a separation: animal from spirit. from kentanee to hokee. as in salt turns an ocean nocturnal with its smallness. the night between us has a restless gap. as in birds flutter. as in cage, as in a wild hive of prayers under my breath. as in we live just one more breath with segments of light. as in we live in a city dragged to the sea by the hands of its night. as in the sugar of a dying language, the scent of ash and a bashed in door. as in smoke-rings blown from the mouth of a glorified general. as in river then a slice of jail. of wine stain, the torture of praying. as in history. as in we wait with white men for metal doors to slide open. as in instead of anger, we have flower petal weight on our shoulders. as in psychedelic. it’s okay we smile. it’s not okay we know: as in more red than music, more curtains dropped on our homes than nightfall. as in memory. as in the threaded rasp of my mother’s voice cloaks the siren, she walks closer to me ever slowly dropping parts of her dark sky. as in instead of radio, a ghost picks up a stream, a frequency foreign to the ear. as in we are foreign stones who have turned to wishes without promise. as in we flee. we dance, moonwalk in our shadows. as in we fall. as in we fall through our mother’s lies for safety. as in we live beneath the yellow death of sun, our language: a summer bomb mixed with extinction. as in i was delivered from war when my mother fired up the lie barricaded in her breast to save me. as in bandana. as in these days I feel ill-gotten, which is to say i’m rugged, as in i stare hard at a painting before I take it with me, as in my friends call me the armenian-persianist, as in an immigrant with a junkyard smile. as in my friends dress like wolves. as in joy has been swept to an aftermath of bodies, mangled. as in ill. as in cough from the small of my delicate sun. as in touch. as in we locked lips under the flicker of lights in a dim-walled hallway. as in my crime is not so much in denying my hunger, but the great extent i went to hide my ability for loss. as in the war. as in on us. as in the nights a city howls in honor of its body count. as in the cemetery has grown jealous of the city, and the evening tucked in its blade so the sunset could live.
Arthur Kayzakian’s chapbook, My Burning City, was a finalist for the Locked Horn Press Chapbook Prize, Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, and the C.D. Wright Prize. His poems and translations have appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Chicago Review, Prairie Schooner, among several publications. He lives in California.