Armine Iknadossian, one of the bookstore managers at Beyond Baroque Bookstore in Venice, CA
  • Armine Iknadossian, one of the bookstore managers at Beyond Baroque Bookstore in Venice, CA
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California Love Poem

  • The sun has an orgasm across the valley
  • as Pasadena opens up in front of me,
  • the Suicide Bridge pushing an arm out
  • of green sleeves, orange blossoms keening
  • after a mid-spring heatwave,
  • the Rose Bowl yawning in a ravine.
  • It is not enough to love the one you love,
  • to drive towards the ocean just to fall
  • into bed with them, then return home
  • alone, drowsy from no sleep and sex in a strange bed.
  • You want to keep driving East towards
  • black rocks and tarantulas of Nevada
  • or South towards the unilateral mirage of water
  • where the Salton Sea groans in her deadwood hammock.
  • On a map, California looks like she’s hugging the continent
  • and Nevada is leaning in for a deep kiss.
  • She is tentative, he is a sharp-tongued,
  • diamond-studded menace, kissing her
  • and at the same time, pushing her into the ocean.

Two Lovers Asleep

  • Like mountain ranges
  • in a desert, one behind the other,
  •                         they settle softly into territory.
  •                         Clouds hide the sun from the summit
  • of his shoulder. Her aquiline hip
  • curves into ravine. Two bodies:
  •                         Solid symmetry, transient flesh
  •                         tempered by sun and time,
  • the winds of ages. Sweat
  • descends the slope of his neck.
  •                         On the ridge of her belly, a scar
  •                         marks a fissure. This is where
  • the earth shook, continents married,
  • flesh merged into flesh. New worlds  
  •                         with names like borrowed clothes
  •                         still hide under earth’s worn mattress,
  • still challenge boundaries
  • and all the rules that come with countries.

The Swimming Lesson

  • My father loved the discipline of the ocean,
  • how it could swallow you whole,
  • spit you out tougher than you were before.
  • My bones were primed for verbal tirades.
  • I kept my own mouth shut as one does
  • while diving into the wall of a large wave,
  • careful not to swallow any of the abrasive
  • matter floating about the steel-blue air.
  • But bones are stubborn things.
  • They are like children who refuse to speak
  • when their fathers question them,
  • submerged in the clutter and mass of the body,
  • in that dark and busy history. When I was three,
  • my father taught me to swim by throwing me
  • into the deep end of a pool. There, my bones
  • pulled me down towards the drainpipe.
  • But, I was expected to put up a fight.
  • So I reached for the water’s invisible throat,
  • pulled hard on its hair, climbed its backbone
  • up towards my father who was kneeling
  • at the calcified lip of the pool,
  • holding one arm out towards me.
  • So I did what he expected me to do:
  • I refused it and pulled my own small body out.

In 2015, Armine Iknadossian retired from teaching in order to support the literary arts and to focus on her two manuscripts god(l)ess: the L is silent and Resident Alien. She is currently one of the bookstore managers at Beyond Baroque Bookstore, aka the Scott Wannberg Poetry Lounge, where you can purchase her newly released chapbook United States of Love & Other Poems. She was recently selected by Red Hen Press to be a Writer in the Schools (WITS). Visit to view her previously published work.

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