It's time to celebrate!


Congratulations to my friend Lory Bedikian, winner of the 2010 Levine Prize!

Yeah. That's "Levine" as in Philip Levine, y'all. This is huge.

Here are a few poems from Lory's forthcoming book, The Book of Lamenting. This will be just the first posting promoting this book. I'll provide more info when I have it.


Night in Lebanon

The youngest boy, with his ulcer,
sleeps. His lower lip pulsates, a small fish
breathing. A bed of torn pillows, cradles four
of them, two brothers, two sisters —
curved, quiet on the living room floor.
Buzzing, the open window has its mouth full
of street lights, mosquitoes, those who stay
awake. Peeled paint on the ceiling, the door

sheds the skin it wore through
a drawn-out, twenty-year civil war.
The parents sleep in a room full of faith
hammered to the walls. Posing, a copper
cross, its inscription in Armenian asks
for blessings of God upon this home.
Through the mother’s sleeping lips a prayer
slips, rises, drifts and hovers above the boy

who dreams: he’s a grown man
spinning yarn around their home
until it’s as thick as a bombshell.
Then, cane in hand, walking through a cedar
grove, he drops his string of worry
beads into a well. Cracking a pumpkin
seed open with his teeth, he tastes
childhood in each closed casing.

In the morning, a thin scroll
of bread filled with tomato paste, oil, mint
will start the hurried day. But now, he sleeps
as he did the day he was born. Stillness
enters his lip, his mouth finally rests,
breathing as he will when he is older
than this war whose finger has carved a scar
in him, the size of an eye that will not close.


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
are 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 page. 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 and closing of hoods, 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.


Lory Bedikian
from The Book of Lamenting, forthcoming from Anhinga Press