An Armenian Lament

Tatev monastery (Photo: Flickr/Raffi Youredjian)

Prelude
A son, a grandson,
Of this nation
My nation
Where I live
Only in my heart
Only in my soul.

There was or was not…
No, for sure there was
A city, a town,
A village
Many cities, towns,
And even more villages
In the highlands
The root, the very source,
Of my transplanted genes.

That village,
Those collective villages
Of our diasporan lot
Where but a meager few
Have ever been
Breathed the air
Sipped the water
Felt the soil, the rocks,
Beneath our feet.

Where we might have
Hunted, fished, tilled, and milled
Where we might have
Weaved, chopped, or hammered
A living of our own
In our own stores, shops, and schools
In our own land.

The villages
Maybe renamed
And changed
Villages that
Don’t know us
Could care less
Indifferent
To our returning
In pilgrimage
For a few days
Or hours.

Signs we were there
Mostly gone
Turned to rubble,
In urinals
Or barns
Used to build
The hovel homes of
Peasants, occupiers,
Victors
Grandsons
Great-grandsons
Of those
That kicked our asses
That kicked us out
Or made us… them.

It is from that
Imaginary altar
That altar, in my
Mind, soul, perhaps even
My American born liver
That I sing this song
In this foreign tongue
This great-grandson
Of Nishan and Mardin
This grandson
Of Levon and Aram
This son of Aram.

I. Job of a Nation
In our mountains
Yes, our mountains,
Separated by dialects
Of our common language
And influences of
Being conquered
Of intermingled words
And genetic codes
We mish-moshed into
This collective thing
This defiance
This independence
This hate of being
Subjugated
Though we so often were.

This fierce independence
A drive to be more
To build and succeed
(not together mind you)
All which seemed to
Totally piss off
Everyone around us…
For centuries

We, tending to ourselves,
On our lands
In everyone’s way
And whatever
Their manifest destiny.

II. The War
Repeat history
Sure, why not,
Blow up our old churches
Deface graves and stones
Displace people that
Lived there, again,
For centuries

Erase our facts
Our existence
It’s what you do
And have done
So very well.

What’s a building?
A statue?
Just things.
Our things, but,
Just things.
They are us
They are not us
Turn them to rubble
It’s what you do
So very well.

Don’t worry
Like the churches and schools
In the highlands
We have the photos
(Now videos too)
But as always, we keep them,
Etched or branded
In the broken, aching hearts
Of all of us, every one of us,
Born there or
Wherever we have
Created a new Armenia

III. Tavadjaner
We need to blame
Ourselves
Well not all of us
We need
We must have
A traitor or three.

We were played
Putin taught us a lesson
As Stalin did
Again, over Karabakh,
Nakhichevan long gone.

Erdogan provided
The iron ladle
Of mercenaries
Of drones
Of command and control.

Forced to a treaty
The best we could do
Versus… what?
Annihilation?

So, our leaders are
What? Traitors?
For being played, big time,
For being naïve
For shunning Putin
For lack of leadership
For our paper ladle
Peashooters versus drones
Conscripts and volunteers
Facing seasoned mercenaries?
Traitors indeed!

Sure, traitors, something
We can grumble about
For centuries.

IV. Those still in the Highlands
My crypto brothers
My hidden sisters
Cousins and
Half Armenian
Half whatever
Part Muslim
Part Christian
A foot in the
Highland dock
The other in the
Diasporan Boat

We have nothing
But everything in common
To explore
To learn
To tolerate
To listen and share
And then what?
Part?

Çetin’s stoic
Joyful morose
Easter çorek baking
Heranuş

Hamşini Ayşenur
Singing sweetly
Songs Levon might have
Loved and danced to.

My father’s cousin
Somewhere
In Istanbul
Do you even know?
Are you even alive?
Do your children know?
Or care?

What about these Armenians
We or they or someone
Has labeled “crypto”

Children of the sword
Survivors of the sword
Indeed…
What a good culture
They got going there.

Don’t believe me?
Ask ‘em…

People of peace
And harmony
Of love and understanding
And Grey Wolves
And swords
And mercenaries
Armed with drones.

We had paper ladles…

V. 1915
Incense wafting
Jingling into the air
Flowers cast onto a holy river
A simple handful of dirt.

Thousands thrown to die
Into Dudan near Çüngüş
Just a creviced
Bottomless cavern.
An entire village lies there.

Or souls burned in a church
The incense of charred flesh
The kushots of screams
Their ashes…

Stories upon stories
All different, all the same
Cut by swords, beheaded, or hanged
Cast clutching their babies
Into some river
You know the names…

Survival
Against the odds
The horrors
The blisters and burns
The tortures and whippings
The sights no one
Should ever see
Nor could ever forget
But for the dementia
Of old age… or death

VI. Confession
Me?
Like the rest
Sitting in diasporan
Comfort… suffering.

We wrote checks
Worried a lot
Cried, felt the gut punch,
Followed the news
And opinions, of course,
On tactics
On geopolitics
On who should be helping us…
Surprised and aghast
At what went down
In that agonizing month

We expressed
From afar
The pain, the anguish,
Of loss
Of yet, another defeat.
That is our history.

There should not be
Heroic songs for this one.
Can’t dress this defeat
This sad outcome
Up as any kind of win.

So, what then is this?
This almost a poem
This pathetic cathartic
Attempt at what?
I’m not even sure.

A flailing attempt
To say something
Anything that helps
Ease the anguish
We all feel?

That is exactly
What it is…

Megha Asdoudzo.
April 24, 2021

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Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.
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3 Comments

  1. I would like to receicyour news letters
    Thank you very much. 🇦🇲🇦🇲🇦🇲✝️✝️✝️🇦🇲🇦🇲🇦🇲

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