The poetry of Michael Minassian

I Have Learned the Korean Alphabet

I have learned the alphabet:
Hangul, a phonetic system,
and practice sounding
out the words
though their meaning,
elusive as the white crane
in the northern marshes,
slips through my fingers
like the mist before
the morning rain.

I have learned the words
for polite conversation,
to say excuse me or I am sorry,
hello, thank you, and sleep well;
I know how to say
I am hungry, I am full, I am tired,
I am in love with your hair,
your skin, your eyes

every morning I taste your lips
searching for the connection
between symbol and sound
silence and flesh
drawing the letters
in the air as if language
was the fabric of touch.



The Postcard I Left Behind

By the time you read this,
it will be too late to say I’m sorry;

I’ll leave the clichés to the writers
of checklists and sculptors of trees;

for the truth, I will substitute
trail mix and wildflowers:

toadflax and forget-me-nots;
for lies, I will swallow bird calls

unanswered, carrying only my backpack
and copies of the sonnets you left behind.

On the path ahead, I see the bear scat
and crushed weeds, the paw prints;

eaten by a bear, or bearing to be eaten,
what’s the opposite of zero?

the sharp teeth, the claws;
I imagined an allegory, not a feast.



Under the Kimono

My love keeps watch
as I change my clothes –

stripped down to
a bare notion of time.

On my knees, I hug
her thighs to my cheek;

I can smell the skeleton
of her thoughts.

She recites long Korean poems
in my ear and I dream

of snow covered trees
that line mountain passes,

and tiger tracks leading
to manacled clouds,

as mandalas of colored
sand slip through my fingers

like an illogically
early moonrise

I can stir with my finger
by the edge of a lidless lake.

Michael Minassian’s poems have appeared recently in such journals as The Broken Plate, Comstock Review, Evansville Review, Main Street Rag, and Third Wednesday. He is also a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010) and photography: Around the Bend (2017). For more information:


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