“Doves of Beirut” by Silva Zanoyan Merjanian


Doves of Beirut


Doves were arrogant in those days

feral, territorial of ledges

I hadn’t snapped their necks yet

through grind of metal

on bone, stone

through air sharpened on greed hones

no scream left in punctured lungs

fate duct taped to fetal nights

barricaded behind shadowed ribs

that hardly rose for a fight

underneath rubble of lord’s prayer and adhan


they pecked at concrete

heads bobbing, waiting


they knew I’d come

they knew I’d tire of walking

your curved dead -end streets


I knew those ledges well

gravel and loose feathers

wet with rain

stuck with white droppings

to my young toes curled on grit


but I knew your streets below better

lick of diesel on asphalt

grief’s iron reek in gutters rising

damp alleys breathing


the way the old do

those who’d seen the blade

cut through flesh

a sigh every third inhale

a pause before funneling

jasmine and mold laced gasps

into patched veins

tied to the stone

tied to throbbing ground

with historical claims

to the sea breeze

that couldn’t cool their burns

still rummaging for life

as they used to remember it


I walked on sweat of fig trees

on your sidewalks bleeding at cracks

when you had the pigeon for dinner

and I starving, gnawed on bones

where I’d tied my message

pleading for your unclutched claws

on my debt


I hear you like your whores younger these days

and you rather have your sons as killers

blind and foaming revenge at mouth

darbouka between their knees dropped for guns


streets mapped in bite marks

on time I served now dyed ash blond

I look away

the way the old do

eyes on the distance to your bleeding ledge


March 25, 2014


Silva Zanoyan Merjanian is an internationally published poet residing in California. She released her first volume of poetry Uncoil a Night in 2013 with all proceeds helping civilian victims caught in war zones, she herself having been cast as collateral damage in a civil war in Lebanon for 8 years. She’s been featured in a variety of publications and anthologies, and was shortlisted for the Fermoy International Poetry Competition 2012. Silva was invited to Ireland in August 2013 to introduce her book.


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