Silva Merjanian


Writer’s Block
for a poet replanted

I thought I had you by frilled hem of a metaphor,
but street-light’s flood of yellow fog
hushes me again to a mere doubt in your hands.

We are diverging.
Your flare escapes fingertips,
turns corners and crosses streets,
collides with slippery notes of Blue Café
playing in a city that echoes back,

Take all you know, and say goodbye,
your innocence, inexperience
mean nothing now.

There’s a poem dying on the sidewalk.
We will bury it with the rest.

It starts to rain.
What’s a poem without rain?
I lose you in the downpour of words
slit and gutted to this city’s taste.

You say, write the streets
after they flatten you against a wall,
see the gutter fill with regret.

Write the river
until you drown in the rising water.

You let go of the wind,
it’s taken you high and dropped you
when you least expect.
A poem like that is road- kill at best.

I’ve seen your white collarbone at 3 am
and you’ve seen my hysteria when alone,
our footsteps swept from the streets,
appear again in verses, wander in alleys
picking shame with the trash.

A city does not forget shame.

Some poets never make it home.

Write, write the homeless till you are one yourself,
let an alley cradle your ribcage.

With the smell of an animal in my hair,
I write your lust till it’s dry semen
stuck to a sole after the train’s departed.
But a city never forgets heave of a moment
that cut like a butcher’s blade.

Write! Damn you, write the longing!

It burns, it burns where a scar runs on edge of a poem,
to a heart and back,
to between-lines, only a night drunk on a full –moon’s light

And when a poem takes you home,
puts you to bed alone,
you hear the city turn to its side,
face the wall where the street- light
doesn’t reach at all,

and crows flutter in your throat,
looking for a way out,
they die on a line clenched between molars.

A dream wakes up in a dream on your tongue,
and you swallow your raw words.
Call it writer’s block, when dawn
tells you of all this, while sober and free
of the night’s spell.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

  • It’s when a winter night strips shell calloused on your voice and our fingers touch in between the lines.
  • It’s morning, as it slides dark covers off a body warm with tales of a night, a ménage à trois; suspended embraces, optimism and I.
  • It’s the night undressed crawling over dawn, as you fasten your undone soul.
  • It’s poetry; that unfolds the night like a handkerchief, reminding you again you’ve already sinned, repented in vain, it does not matter who lies in your bed, on your fingertips it’s poetry’s sweat.
  • It’s when a glimpse drips from corner of a sudden smile, and you catch it as you would the rain in your mouth. A glimpse like a shadow of a bird that flew by, your eyes tracing wing prints against a cloudless sky.
  • It’s when you hold his fragile mind in your lap, and gently blow on embers of your love.
  • It’s when you dance your pain fused to your bones, your body dressed, your spirit bare. When it’s a dance you live, or perhaps not, it could be grace lost in life.
  • It’s where you can hold your laughter in the palm of your hand.
  • It’s an unclenched soul, spread on solitude as if on a lover’s bed, when through loose folds drop unnoticed remnants a life wished away.
  • It’s when a silent night from time to time uncoils your thoughts then wraps around, rhymes with your soul.
  • It’s when you savor morsels of memories, crushing them like you would a grape between your teeth.
  • It’s when you hear a rumor (of love) in euphony of rain.
  • It’s the muse between moans of the night and sunrise, between notes of Beethoven rolling down your tongue.
  • It’s when poets find the words to color their hell and dip their pens in wounds that aren’t even theirs.
  • It’s when you find the rooftop you hung your fresh laundry on.
  • It’s when you finally fit in your skin although thin at places and still as crazy as a bird that keeps flying into the window pane.
  • It’s when artless restraints rust and the light catches their decay in glorious colors.
  • It’s September that breathes in your gaping mouth, and you don’t hold it to its promises, you know they’re idle rain on rooftops.
  • It’s where sadness could not linger for longer than one could hold a breath.
  • It’s the underside of rain, where voices fall as prayers on moist imperfections, and you wake as fragile as dawn’s toothless grin. It’s where you can keep your wounds honest.
  • It’s when a river turns in its sleep and mutters your song.
  • It’s when the universe crawls on skin soft with expectation and you untie silk rhymes lifting the bluebird’s cleavage.
  • It’s when there’s no turning back; you’ve tasted sweat of a dream, lips soaked in a poet’s verse, mending with his voice smoke from Parisian chimneys on an autumn evening, as the rain falls.
  • It’s when Paris whistles a Brel song.
  • It’s when a new sun at dawn dances delusions on old-town walls, where the moss still fulgent in silent hues of hubris resurrects self-worth.
  • It’s when light flickering from windows softens prongs of silence as air disrobed slides on nature’s preys.
  • It’s when May arrives like a woman, and like a woman it evolves.
  • It’s back home, where we hung our dreams on clotheslines, and they flapped and twisted on rooftops dodging every stray bullet, pretense and wink.
  • It’s when October drops gift baskets at your door, full of dainty words and soil wet and scented calls for verses to catch color of leaves losing their grasp on spring’s promise.


Silva Zanoyan Merjanian is a widely published poet of Armenian descent, who grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. She moved to Geneva for a few years during the Lebanese civil war and later settled in Southern California with her husband and two sons. Her work is featured in anthologies and international poetry journals, such as XXI Century World Literature, San Diego Poetry Annual, an upcoming issue of Levure littéraire, Scarlet Leaf Review, Ygdrasil, A journal of Poetic Arts, and elsewhere. Merjanian was the guest speaker at Celebration of Survival cultural event at Ohio State University on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Merjanian has two volumes of poetry, Uncoil a Night (2013) and Rumor (Cold River Press, 2015.) Rumor won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Fall 2015 for best poetry book by NABE. Merjanian donates proceeds from both books and speech compensations to charitable organizations. More at: