Khor Virap

by Alex Vartan Gubbins

The night fog throws
a black cotton over the trees
as a voice behind the silence
dances off marble walls
from a hole, that tongue
from the earth’s torque
thirsty for threading moon
over the river’s hearty amble,
tenuous, stagnating ebullition
between blues wandering
the glows, where feral crust
lines itself with the eastern rush
in humble recession in the basin.
The moon tide of up & in & back
out to stretch the banks only to lay
a tarp of after-dusk over the valley.
If you stand & feel the power of
the current’s struggle against
your shins, removing calm instinct
to make you reconsider
the honor of shadow, then darkness
will tattoo itself into your heart.
of all you can see, & cannot.

[So be it, so be the pale
approach of reflection off the glass
in the dead pools. you’ll have enough
when the dying lamb’s pitch
makes you un-have what you thought of
when dreaming of christened wires
that quiet as you pass through.
you pry open metal in darkness,
testimony of humbling your crawl
so your palms understand
every stone across the river lowland.
what happened and what could still
as you silent-bottle what you
witnessed to get here, the crawling
across the fields, the touch
of cold lips & eyes, some
are open.] ###

Alex Vartan Gubbins was born in Chicago. He has a BA in African Languages and Literature from UW Wisconsin and an MFA from Northern Michigan University. He was the recipient of the 2014 Witter Bynner Translation Grant and a finalist in the North American Review’s 2015 James Hearst Poetry Prize. He’s recently been published in By & By Poetry, Bird’s Thumb, and Tishman Review. He currently lives in Yerevan, Armenia, where he works as a teacher. Avgubbins.net