Silva Merjanian

Life and Legends


Silva Zanoyan Merjanian is a widely published poet who grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. She moved to Geneva during the Lebanese civil war and later settled in California with her husband and two sons. She is the author of two poetry collections, Uncoil a Night (2013)
and Rumor ( Cold River Press, 2015.) Rumor was awarded Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for best poetry book for fall 2015 by NABE. Merjanian has three poems nominated for the Pushcart Prize. All proceeds from both books are donated in entirety to refugees.
Merjanian was the guest speaker at Ohio State University in 2015 for the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Her website is –


When we met
soot of Beirut burning
crusted my skin.

Hair tied in a knot to hold my head up
I tucked loose strands
under the lump in my throat
and asked you to let me in.

Your streets scanned my bones,
traced my scars running from chin
to toes uncurling on new asphalt.

I fed the gargoyles at your gates
last piece of bread and zaatar from back home,
last death of gutted ghosts,
voices that came from thunderstorms
behind barracks of faith, roots
and the birthright fading in my pocket.

I wiped the blood from my soles
and polished your pavements with gratitude.

I threw out empty yogurt containers
and plastic bags piled in my mother’s cabinets,
I knew I wouldn’t be needing them one day.

You see, seagulls on the Pacific
fight over their claims on the sky
but there’s no gunpowder on their wingtips
no shrapnel pierces them mid-flight.

View to your streets sometimes fogs
with doubt on the reflection in the glass,
when I ask her name with an accent
and she responds without one.


There were moonlit nights …. and many moonless nights
sober and drunken in one grain of sand
in billions of grains there were filthy hands
mud and fingernails between sunburned thighs

this is not my skin with nerves inside out
not my breast squeezed into faint whimpers
like dying swallows caught in a dry mouth

soon I’ll be a memory in last verse of songs
someone meant to write on a summer night
flesh to sand …. sand to a story to tell
they’ll mention tattoos and how I was a slave

look, look how many stars in one grain of sand
in a billion grains in a billion tears
screams tangled like strings through my broken ribs

you did not know me then
before, much before they tore off my clothes
and the desert night shivered with their rage
you did not see how my hair flowed like silk
on soft pillows where teenage dreams were weaved
you did not know me dressed with flowers in my hair
and my father’s arm around my adolescent frame
you did not see the stars from our wide windows
above the vineyard and my feet bare on the fertile soil
in our apricot tree’s cool summer shade

I’m in the evening news in a pile of bones
look at the skull at the very left
see the sparrow lodged between clenched jaws
I’m in the evening news a hundred years late
in the grains of sand shifting restless with shame
in the billion stars in your sky tonight
in my mother’s voice singing * kenatzir pallas
in the moonlit nights… and the moonless nights
on a dagger’s blade in the Deir ez-Zor sand

In memory of the thousands of women raped, tortured and killed in the Deir ez Zor desert during the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire

* Lullaby “ Sleep my Child”


This calm has rocked the evening
to forgetfulness
it is peaceful
when nothing’s remembered
but strength of my hands
quiet of tongue pressed on your name
where blood clots
where jazz once flowed
jagged through veins

peaceful dead-end

till instinct bites the flame
and there’s that want again
for the forest dark and dense
city skyline wet with rain
soft breeze subtly uprooting mornings
daylight that remembers me

dusk smells like I imagine you would
of possibility
I could do with, I could do without
it’s the damn night that’s still damp
where your poetry licked lips touched
when every star knew you were not meant
to hold a night like this and I
leaning against a dying vine


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