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Fall 2008, Volume 25.1


Helene PilibosianPhoto of Helene Pilibosian.

Helene Pilibosian holds a degree in humanities from Harvard University. She has published
Carvings from an Heirloom: Oral History Poems, At Quarter Past Reality: New and Selected Poems (Writer’s Digest Award), and History’s Twists: The Armenians. New poems are forthcoming in Ellipsis and Fulcrum. She was an editor at an Armenian-American newspaper and currently is head of Ohan Press (, a private bilingual micropress which has published eight internationally recognized books.


Serious Cartoons

We are all proofreaders
trying to correct the politics
that satirists like best
or trying to reverse the slide
of a sublime civilization.
The clock is saturated
with cartoons of the bus
driving us out of the storm
of human formations.

Our wishes slither along the stage
like anacondas searching for breakfast.
One door opens American,
the other closes French
as we practice our illusions
like children again playing with blocks.
Less often we search for that house
where our identity lived
and where our wishes whisper
once upon a moment that wasn’t.

We act silly as we climb trees
that pretend to be eternity.
We become saints when we spend
all emotions for food and healing.
We are grocers of our happiness,
magicians of our disappearances.
We are handypersons
of our liabilities and ideas.
We are now prisoners
of geometry and electronics.

The old illusions are simply
bubbles down the drain
and fade away as slyly
as they first appeared.
So lets hear global jokes,
funny as any we know,
to erase the frown’s creases.


Seashore Seeding

Sand in my mouth
was a dry day at the shore
where the swim had been
the wave of the hand
out of the cold
of the new Nantasket
without a roller coaster ride.
Former days hid there
like honey on yogurt,
slightly sweet like the photo
of the silken wheat field.

Like the impractical artist,
I couldn’t be taken by the vision
of the shore gradually being
drowned by rising waters.
I rejected the pessimism
of the puerile pen
for the joy of a wreath
understating its welcome.

Though there was no flavor
to savor in the smog
that sometimes deleted thought,
I painted my own ideas
with the wonder of ice cream,
the sensation of strawberries,
the pick of orchids,
the clean sweep of streets,
the shine of a new car,
the sense of the frugal,
the nostalgia of the rules,
the praise of winter ice,
the melting that is better.

All for a shore
that didn’t see me there.


The Saved Vase

A vase from 1800 speaks
with lips of testimony
in no court but the present moment.
Its chic takes a palatable poll
fired in a hired kiln
to play a tame chord
with magnificent sputter.
It saves its palatial luster.
Its design was always hence,
flowers with joints
like our fingers and toes.
A spray of blossoms
would compliment it neatly
in imitation or celebration
of its acceptance.
Its diction never slurs
or blurs its careful lines
into indefinites.
Attitude upon the table
is its final sum.
I’ll call the experts
if questions of value peak;
but who would tweak the truth?

Contrast the games that need
no glass or firing,
no time for their striving.
"What’s My Line"
and "Wheel of Fortune,"
the TV brainy lanes
or Pac-Man that made
computers so famous.
Contrast truth with truth
and you will see the vase
in all its radiance.


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