The International Community

Vanadzor Fountains (Photo: Arthur Ovanesian, 2021)

Author’s note: I’m deeply grateful to Arthur Ovanesian and Perla Kantarjian for their invaluable suggestions.

Yet again history
has decided
to visit the present.
Like always,
it has come
Once more, we said:
“Please give us bread.”
They said here’s pain
and we did receive it.
We suggested:
“If not food,
you may bring any gift.”
We got only poison.
We said, day by day:
“Our bodies are growing slim.”
They answered:
“Ah, you’re getting smart now.”
Perhaps we spoke too often
about our tormenter’s sin
that’s why some understood
it as being without,
and others thought
it was their own.
We raised our voices:
“Our people are living in hell.”
The response:
“Your situation looks bright.”
We begged:
“Please protect our plot of land.”
They wondered:
“Why are you requesting fences?”
We informed them:
“Our home
isn’t safe.”
They advised:
“Then go ahead and keep 
the doors open.”
With time, we told them:
“It’s still getting too hot.”
Finally, a few understood,
but still they did nothing.
We warned: “The last
of our people are leaving.”
Oh, what a burden
this was to hear!
We suggested:
“Let’s make a list of demands.”
They thought:
“Perhaps we’re getting too cunning.”
We pronounced:
“Our enemies could be pétulant.”
I guess, in our ignorance,
we didn’t pronounce
it the right way,
sounding playful, exuberant.
We asked: “Are we not
being sensible enough?”
They said: “Yes, but still
you’re being too sensitive.”
We cautioned:
“They mean war.”
They calmed us down:
“That’s all in the past.”
We said: “It could happen այսօր.”
They heard what they wanted to hear:
“We’re too much of an eyesore.”
Now that everyone has left,
there’s no enemy left.
All the “occupiers” have fled.
All the “separatists” are gone.
There are no more people
to call “traitors” and “dogs.”

Glossary of terms:

PainBread (French)
GiftPoison (German)
SlimSmart, intelligent (Dutch)
Sin: (Without in Spanish) (a reflexive pronoun in Swedish)
HellBright, luminescent (German)
PlotFence (Slovak)
HomeMold (Finnish)
HotThreat (Swedish)
LastBurden (German)
ListCunning (German)
PétulantExuberant, Playful (French)
SensibleSensitive (French)
WarWas (German)
David Garyan holds an MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Cal State Long Beach. In addition, he received an MA in International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage from the University of Bologna. He has published four collections of poetry with Main Street Rag. He serves as General European Editor for Interlitq, an international online literary magazine where he has interviewed and published the work of some of the most notable writers and academics of our time, including Sari Nusseibeh, Elena Poniatowska, Susan Stewart, Harry Northup and Clifford Ando, among others. His poem, “Open Letter to the Students of Brandeis University with Bibliography,” published in Volume 11 of The American Journal of Poetry, was praised by Joyce Carol Oates and promoted on her official Twitter page. He lives in Trento.