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About this poet

Lory Bedikian is the author of The Book of Lamenting (Anhinga Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. She teaches poetry workshops in Los Angeles.

The Book of Lamenting

begins on edges of highways

where the sun raises its swollen belly,
grasses outgrow themselves,
vineyards wither their nerves.

The sun cracks the dashboard,
slithers between rows of eucalyptus, juniper,
rolls along the wheels of trucks.

Past crows that caw, pod atop railroad crossings,
the engine cranks its monotonous pulse, distracts me
from posted signs, the yellow snake that guides me along.

This is where I find reasons to question the living,

my father’s face held
in his hands, his brows etched
in the stained glass of the missions,

my mother’s sacrifice dwelling
in deserted turnpikes, her eyes
gazing from overgrown orchards.

Trees disappear. Dried brush crumbles
into camel’s fur. In the distance, no horizon,
but tumbleweed large as sheep.

This is where I am when the world has closed its ears,

alongside rusted tractors, abandoned fruit stands,
roaming for hours, nothing but barbed-wire fences,
nothing but the smells of harvest and gasoline.

The road matters more than the earth,
more than those on the road, it turns
into a spine, ladder of teeth and bone.

In the passenger seat, my grandmother’s ghost
holds a palm full of seeds, scatters them
skyward for the crows to eat.

All of it behind us now. She tells me
not to tangle my nerves, not to stop
the creed of the open road—

nothing that runs can stay the same.

Copyright © 2011 Lory Bedikian. This poem originally appeared in The Book of Lamenting (Anhinga Press, 2011). Used with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2011 Lory Bedikian. This poem originally appeared in The Book of Lamenting (Anhinga Press, 2011). Used with permission of the author.

 

Lory Bedikian

Lory Bedikian

Lory Bedikian is the author of The Book of Lamenting (Anhinga Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. She teaches poetry workshops in Los Angeles.

by this poet

poem

Sorry for mercury strewn in veins of fish,
for traces of carbon monoxide loose in the air,
for radiation that circles and enters the aura.

Sorry for deliberate puffs and sips
late in the night, for an empty stomach
burning with coffee grounds,

for words of magma, thoughts rough as

poem

             There are many reasons why a woman falls
      to the floor. An optimist surely imagines
lovemaking, or the uncontrollable writhing

             of modern dance that sweeps across the stage,
      not a harsh plunge onto hardwood, the tumble
so sudden one thinks the old

poem

Stretching over the carburetor,
he shouts about the quality of life here
compared to back home, how they stood
in line for bread, how there were no cedars
more green than those by the shore.

He could be my uncle in Syria, 1948,
a man taking in fumes, a cigarette balancing
on a