Three Poems by Michael Minassian


The biography of the bees
is written in honey
Linda Pastan

I rode in an elevator

from street level to penthouse,

a honeycombed hive—

sweetness like a bitter potion,

the worker’s devotion,

the queen’s empty grace.

She wears red slippers

embroidered with dragons,

reclines on a couch 

covered with flower petals;

her wings vibrate the air 

with the scent of pollen

and a humming noise

designed to drive 

the drones mad with lust

as they sign up to mate

with her in flight, then die.

The heart knows 

what it wants

but not who it wants—

I will speak for the bees,

the sting of love 

fierce on my tongue.


It’s been a long time since I’ve seen

those red dyed pistachios, 

the kind that stained your fingers

with the blood of Sepastia

my grandmother said,

and I knew what she meant:

our ancestral home obliterated in 1915.

Forty years have passed

since I sat in her kitchen,

at the table with the checkered

red and white tablecloth,

and fire engine red kettle

humming on the stove.

The apartment now vanished,

the whole building, gone

up in yellow and red smoke,

smoldering in the shadow

of the 3rd Avenue El—

now a flat empty space,

Bathgate Avenue Community Garden,

printed in red letters on a white sign 

on the chicken wire fence.

Gone, too, the blue, gold, and red

oriental carpets, white lace doilies,

the candlestick phone she never replaced,

the faded blankets, and sagging mattress

I slept on during overnight visits.

Those same nights she gave me

the special goat’s milk soap

to wash the red stains from my fingers,

holding my hand in hers,

the faded blue tattoos 

of a cross and her name in Armenian

done when she was just a girl

still visible on her hand—

her skin thin as water, rich as blood.


Who goes there? What’s the word
 Ray Bradbury

I’m standing in the kitchen

boiling a watch,

trying to turn back time.

I have a certain nostalgia 

for both the past,

and the promise of a future 

with flying cars, moving sidewalks,

robotic homes, and chic unisex 

clothing made of silver thread—

My friends complain 

about the lack of a cure;

their faces shine with sweat 

as they remove their masks,

offering me a few drops

of disinfectant or a glass of wine. 

I’ve lost my sense 

of taste and smell,

pass by empty

supermarket shelves,

and vaccination camps.

Outside, refrigerated trucks

hold the dead

like heads of wilted lettuce;

water drips into pools 

on the pavement below.

The Mayans buried their dead

inside the home,

smashing through walls

and digging up the floors.

I’ve knocked down the fence

between my house

and the neighbor’s garden;

their voices silent,

the world as quiet

as a spider’s next move.

MICHAEL MINASSIAN is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online poetry journal. His chapbooks include: poetry: The Arboriculturist and photography: Around the Bend. His poetry collections Time is Not a River, Morning Calm, and A Matter of Timing are all available on Amazon.  To learn more about Michael go to his website here

8 replies »

  1. These are wonderful, special, exceptional..and very powerful. I love the bees, so rich, and the wonderful grandmother with all the red echoes of blood and loss, and love. And of course the last, the plague poem. All stunning!!

  2. Michael–I should write about your work at the Armenian Mirror Spectator soon if you would like. Link your books and to your poems on this site, which I love–both the site and the poems. I am at drop me an email when you get a chance. i too remember red pistachios (always thought they were red as a kid, then green as the ice cream, they are just brown it turns out lol–I think). Congrats again. BTW I grew up between 2nd and 3rd Ave and 80th street–officially pre-gentrified Yorkville/Germantown. The real gentrification started when they took down the 3rd Ave “L train” that you mention–long before i was born I think. The neighborhood is barely recognizable today: all gawdy condos, nail shops, overpriced italian restos and nail parlors lol…Congrats again, I have read your work before–it is always fascinating.

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