Karen Kevorkian







Close Agreement Exists

between the Codex Fiorentino and the Historia de Tlaxcala as to the omens that appeared ten years before the Spanish first came to Mexico


It seemed to bleed fire, drop by drop, like a wound in the skyAn inkspatter of starlings


a tremor a sootsplat tornado murmuration


a clumping a rage


the idea of lack so crammed with meaning


a spread flat bedsheet’s gunpowder spill

black shot rivulets in the creases

then wild diffusion, cursive shaping


pointillist demotic on a blank folio


The temple first into flames


Yellow as lemons, red as a toxic sun

maroon of old leather handbags, seductively

the current invites


directed by a configuration of streambed

it swells, cold,

dark wet and rolling


taking leaves in lazy yellow moving


The people said: The temple was struck by a blow from the sun


Each building projected an everyday shadow

no fog softening or smoke rising from the ground


nor falling from the sky

a sickness of air


sickness of the eyes

silence of a bad sun


anything could happen

imponderable yellow ash


in places false rose or stagnant blue

nothing definite or indefinite


pointless to ask what was known

no possibility of sentiment


a hastening

like something heard


or the truth

always about to appear


There was a great outcry and confusion as if the people shook a thousand little bells


Painful, like oblique light

like sidewalk ice mistaken

for broken glass


yellow caution tape’s

protected space


sound of water rushing

or maybe fire


The wind lashed the water until it boiled


A bus door opened



bagged in plastic


dogs tugging at corpses


for days, hundred on the bridges


the bus filling with that smell

give her some air please


A weeping woman, night after night


Soft vowels of NAFTA, maquiladoras, pistoleros,



polychromed saviors

paper diapers


the shit. Teeth-yellow

battered grasses, beautiful


the blue Sonoran ranges

la frontera


dark star. Sore fingers

from the little thorns


her Calexico your Mexicali


her glock your AK-47, her gifts


narcotraficantes, coyotes, arroyos




Every Day, Insidious



Every day, insidious pleasure


leaves touching


little sighs


and thinking this won’t last and wanting to seize


and then


to seize becomes foreign as if the leaves

spoke Etruscan some excess


of vowel sounds or Cantonese.




Beirut May 2008


Assembling what was known in the fever glitter of what was not known


the vocabulary of acronyms, bonjours and mercis elided

into Arabic. I had not been the one in the room


above Hamra Street, looking down on the man in the shrubs

rocket launcher on his shoulder. I did not know the

shrapnel in the wall


I could leave it, a souvenir


who was and was not fighting whom that week. I drove past the Green Line,

the Holiday Inn’s half-eaten tower


they talk of leaving it this way, a monument. Believe me,

since the bombing downtown has been dead


Drug wars I told them though not where I live.



(All three poems from Lizard Dream, What Books Press)












Karen Kevorkian has published two poetry collections, Lizard Dream and White Stucco Black Wing. A native of Texas, she lives in Los Angeles. Her work appears recently in Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Denver Quarterly Review, Volt, and Colorado Review. She teaches at UCLA.


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