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Lory Bedikian’s The Book of Lamenting was awarded the 2010 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. Bedikian received her BA from UCLA with an emphasis in Creative Writing, Poetry where she was twice nominated for the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Prize in Poetry. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where she was awarded the Dan Kimble First Year Teaching Award for Poetry. Her manuscript has been selected several times as a finalist in both the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition and in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Competition and has received grants from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial fund as well as from AFFMA: Arpa Film Foundation for Music & Art. Her poems have been published in the Connecticut Review, Portland Review, Poetry International, Poet Lore and Heliotrope among other journals and have been included in Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets. Poets & Writers chose her work as a finalist for the 2010 California Writers Exchange Award. She teaches poetry workshops in Los Angeles.


Father Picking Grapes, Armenia, 1997

We watch from the Moscovich
as he steps into the ditch,
our driver begging him to hurry.

These grapes are from Hayasdan
he says, as he steps up to the car,
plucks one for each of us.

Let the owner complain. Let him
knock me down. I have waited
my entire life to pick these grapes.

He sings a familiar, dark cluster
of notes in the dry October air.
The hills, now camels at dusk, stare

at swallows swimming above,
look to the dusty road
that meets the horizon. As if someone

approaches, he listens, almost
waits for a relation, long lost,
to walk toward this remote village,

to find him here with his palms full of harvest,
full of vines that have waited for his return.


Prayer for My Immigrant Relatives

While they wait in long lines, legs shifting,
fingers growing tired of holding handrails,
pages of paperwork, give them patience.
Help them to recall the cobalt Mediterranean
or the green valleys full of vineyards and sheep.
When peoples’ words resemble the buzz
of beehives, help them to hear the music
of home, sung from balconies overflowing
with woven rugs and bundled vegetables.
At night, when the worry beads are held
in one palm and a cigarette lit in the other,
give them the memory of their first step
onto solid land, after much ocean, air and clouds,
remind them of the phone call back home saying,
We arrived. Yes, thank God we made it, we are here.


Self-Portrait with Crane

On road trips, no coastal fog rolling in
brings me the sea gull or sandpiper

shifting from water to sky,
but the common Armenian crane

who treks across the Atlantic,
breaks through California clouds,

haunts the laurels, the eucalyptus,
a message tucked in its beak.

In riffs strummed on midwestern guitars,
I can hear the duduk hound me

with its drone of apricot wood,
piping a monotone dirge, driven

like the tumbleweed. In New Mexico,
each flute player’s eye turns

into the pomegranate seed.
Going east should bring foliage

but I see the blue eye in trees.
For days, New England’s sediment

drops into riverbeds, bends
into Gorky’s brush strokes.

No relief. Ghosts float west
from Ellis Island, crosses tattooed

on their forearms, worry beads
pebbled in their grip. Even as I watch

the World Series, a fly ball
turns into the crane.


All poems from The Book of Lamenting, Anhinga Press, 2011

© 2012 Lory Bedikian


Lori Bedikian

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