Back to Issue Forty-Two

There is No Word for This Name


Mother said
it looks like a stain from a bracelet around the wrist.

A grapple phantom.

A sort of hue that surfaces when one is pulled through the door.

It is the astronomy of the hand best seen through cause and effect
mother said.

She was scientific about it, touching the solar system
pulsing around her eye.



When I ask you to name it,
you parade the garden with ghosts on your tongue

calling out to the prisoners who slipped through the fences—
the part history leaves out.

It used to mean sitting in the balcony, moon split in half.

How this was a mirror planet—that half of the world does not exist.
You left that part out, didn’t you?

That you reside in the misplaced side of the moon.

Fine, I believe you.

You named it the residue of night falling on a garland of dark petals,
steam rising from a black teacup

with your lips smudged on the rim on the last day you took a sip.

Since you’ve been gone,
I’ve tried to name every bird perched on the branches.

I need to know what flies out of the holes in our lives.



I had to read it twice.
My name has a wavy bounce.

Under the glow of a light bulb, it glimmers off government documents, sits next
to a polygraphed sticker of an eagle

and the well-rested signature of the state,

which appears longer with more vowels and loops.

When I read it the second time, it feels like a transaction
running through me.

Careful not to leave my fingerprints behind,
I hold the certificate with gloves.

And in the back of my head,
from somewhere in the past, lingers

the crypto-biotic sound of my mother saying my name.


Arthur Kayzakian is the winner of the 2021 Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series award for his collection, The Book of Redacted Paintings, which was also selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. He is also the winner of the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition for his chapbook, My Burning City. He has been a finalist for the Locked Horn Press Chapbook Prize, Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, the C.D. Wright Prize, the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and the Black River Chapbook Competition. He is a contributing editor at Poetry International and a recipient of the Minas Savvas Fellowship. He serves as the Poetry Chair for the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from several publications including Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Portland Review, Chicago Review, Nat. Brut, Michigan Quarterly Review, Witness Magazine, and Prairie Schooner.

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