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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 Mechanic

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 fender, hands lined with grease,
saving coins in a jar for his newborn,
losing relatives to malaria, to civil war.

But today we’re in Hollywood—the palms
dry. This man speaks to me in Armenian.
He remembers working late into the Lebanese night,
the plaza’s noise of backgammon boards,
headlights beaming beyond the Mediterranean.

Now, he’s used to customers calling out
his American nickname, while he wrenches
spark plugs into place, the old country
preserved on a calendar. He’s used to this
new world of dollar bills, available parts.

I say bless him and this hand-made auto shop,
the first opening, closing of hoods, pump of pistons.
And bless the one who never made it over
the Atlantic, an arm extending into the engine,
a scar exposed, the shape of an eagle’s wing.

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

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

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

While they wait in long lines, legs shifting,
fingers growing tired of holding handrails,
pages of paperwork, give them patience.
Help them to recall the cobalt Mediterranean
or the green valleys full of vineyards and sheep.
When peoples’ words resemble the buzz
of beehives, help them