Tamar Fleishman 1:48 p.m., Dec. 16
- Armine Iknadossian, one of the bookstore managers at Beyond Baroque Bookstore in Venice, CA
The sun has an orgasm across the valley
Three poems by Armine Iknadossian
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.
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- The sun has an orgasm across the valley — July 12, 2017