Silva Zanoyan Merjanian







Brass Knuckles of Traditional Values


On domestic violence and the bill that finally passed to criminalize it in Armenia.

Opponents of bill didn’t want to lose ‘traditional values’

Winter’s on the side of the road

with a suitcase of shame.


Gravel hardened,

sign blinks Dead End

and I, holding on to the rain.


It’s patriarchal land

I slip and fall on every day.


I chase prayers to edge of my strength,

a flickering candlelight

in camouflaged rage,

compliance swallows me

to spit me back

into a white veil

hanging empty

to have and to hold 

in embroider pretense.


Nightmares sleepwalk

between my legs,

I count stains our ceiling holds,

count saints who turned their backs,

bruises darken on measured breath

guarding the blush creased

in your untarnished hands.


We are man and wife. 


My tribe retreats

wings pinned to ancient stones.


I have kissed the groom.


A deboned fish flapping in your mouth,

I can neither explain nor catch my fall

yet I insist I’m not that woman,

ice your fist, my pride, the face

I take to bed.

Remorse has shades

you’ve never seen

on skin that molts as the sun sets,

burnt musk rises like smoke from vows

shackled to humped mountains,

ancestral chains.






on faith


I take my leave,

And hasten to the heights that I have longed for

Leaving my shadow still to be with you


 Anna Akhmatova


I came back in a dream for my shadow


I was a fish

you were the sand on a shore

the way this ocean ate the moon

nothing was left

of its light

nothing to fill porosity

of your pride

you, mercurial wind

nailing spring poppies

to blades of grass in a field

I, the bite on your breath

colored them red with your blood


I was the sediment in your glass

you, the night, almost drunk

I erased your death, forgave

your birth, but your nocturnal pain

remained as loud as thunder against

my mouth


all you had was a drop of deyo in metaphors

on a reed pen’s tip

you, the writer in this dream

and I, the reader you want to lure

to this poem but turn the page on a whim


Top of Form



Deyo- Hebrew word for ink used during Biblical times – powdered charcoal or sooth mixed with water and sometimes gum.






Reduced emotional resonance of language. Feeling less emotionally connected to your second language might make it easier to use highly emotional vocabulary.

Wilhelmiina Toivo


If language were a city

I’d be homeless in its alleys


in these parts of memory

you can’t find a reason

not to fear exhale

of your mother language

a mere buzz past a hunger


across rivers you’ve known

for force of their currents

through your veins

for the shadows

it casts on your heartache

doubts it digs

from your palate

like bruised worms

in the wet soil of spring


and you wonder

if you say it

in any other language

would heaviness

of this silence between lines

rise from pavements like steam



(Fifth Wednesday Journal, Fall Stellar Issue)




Writer’s Block


for a poet lost in translation


I thought I had you by frilled hem of a metaphor,

but street-light’s flood of yellow fog

hushes me again to a mere doubt in your hands.

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 back,


Take all you know, and say goodbye, 

your innocence, inexperience

mean nothing now.


There’s 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

after they flatten you against a wall, 

see the gutter fill with regret.


Write the river 

until you drown in the rising water


You let go of the wind,

it’s taken you high and dropped you

when you least expect,

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.


Some poets never make it home.


Write, write the homeless till you are one yourself,

let an alley cradle your ribcage.


With the smell of an animal in my hair,

I write 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
that cut like a butcher’s blade.


Write!  Damn you, write the longing!


It burns, it burns where a scar runs on edge of a poem

to a heart and back,

to between-lines, only a night drunk on a full –moon’s light



And when 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.


A dream wakes up in a dream on your tongue,

and you swallow your raw words.

Call it writer’s block, when dawn

tells you of all this, while sober and free

of the night’s spell.



(Peacock Journal & Anthology)












Silva Zanoyan Merjanian is a widely published poet who grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. She moved to Geneva for a few years during the Lebanese civil war and later settled in Southern California with her husband and two sons. Her poetry reflects a little of what she took with her from each city she lived in. The nostalgia for her roots, her Armenian heritage, her deep sense of humanity reduced and elevated at the same time in life’s events permeate through her poems.  Her work is featured in anthologies and international poetry journals.  Merjanian was the guest speaker at Celebration of Survival cultural event at Ohio State University on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.  Merjanian has two volumes of poetry, Uncoil a Night (2013) and Rumor (Cold River Press, 2015.) Rumor won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Fall 2015 for best poetry book by NABE, she has 3 poems from Rumor nominated for Pushcart Prize.


Merjanian donates proceeds from both books and speech compensations to charitable organizations.



Articles similaires