January 5, 2021
What Is Memory?
What is it of and what is it to the collective hovering to engulf you?
Memory is a sieve, sweeping in and away sediments
Embellishing as it fills or empties, deforming as it surges
To squeeze, infusing your thoughts with the wide flapping
Canopy of others, their unescapable, unowned screams
In the night stacks unknown, until pen meets silver paper,
Records and rerecords in an order only a movie projector
Could reverse in a labyrinthine time machine without wings.
Story with no censor, no anchor, floating in the green sea, memory
Denied anguish reenters, red flushed cheeks render, their flesh weak
And you last and last, sweat like a harbor longshoreman's weekend peak
Beer and oblivion, crooked politics and flowers for the second mistress
Who has a baby who needs new braces and you have a train to catch
clouds come in and out of tunnels and the bedroom smells of anger
Her sheets crumple, strangle your ardor, you think of Hamlet and his sleep.
When you confess to have seen a goat or an elephant in the African tea shop
Tall birds dancing with bikinis tied round their beaks, dollars dangling in a heap
Their mothers at cash registers, ambling through New Orleans wickered balconies
Beads and brass, sex in the high C's, alleys made of rubber chalices, blood of sheep
But the teacher lifts her skirt and you see geography in blue and purple rivulets, not pink
Leading to an overwhelming question, can we do this tomorrow and the morrow
Sacrificed high moral altar ego on the slopes of the Sierras dancing crack to yellow creek?
The turntable sings of rosy reindeer, fire sparkles behind glass, sings a hip hint to bear skin
Football giants, saints, cameras sweep by the playing field, celebrities brush golden smiles on cue
Biting hot dogs made of venison, rending verse tense with Tennyson, Arthur Ash stadium please
Seasons come in a night and grieve but a trace of agonizing leaves interlaced with flakes of snow
Garnished medals, metal pedals, instruments that play themselves and roar at the lips of ecstasy
Church patrons, sit in paid seats, made cliques, hair raising sin swindle bleached pardons parlor deep
Open your eyes hushpuppy, dreamworld morning light, dim and dimmer as time's tremors reappear.
Dr. Bedros Afeyan is a theoretical physicist who works and lives in the Bay Area with his wife Marine. He writes in Armenian and in English, and also paints and sculpts. He is the current editor of The Literary Groong.