The HyperTexts

Armen Davoudian

Armen Davoudian is the author of Swan Song, which won the 2020 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. His poems and translations from Persian have appeared in AGNI, The Sewanee Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and is currently a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University.

The Palace of Forty Pillars

         Isfahan is half the world

Twenty pillars drip into the pool
their likenesses, where the likeness of a boy
wavers among the clouds, eyeing the boy
who’s waiting for another. All is dual:
two rows of roses frame the pond, in twos
the swans glide, each on another’s breast, then fuse
in a headless embrace. All is dissolved:
the boy outside the water is no more

a boy inside the water—his no more
the face defaced by its own lines on shattered
waves overlapping like a rose, the tattered
pillars strewn like petals. All is halved,
severed, like home and school, like love and being
loved—the boy no more than a way of seeing.

Originally published by The Sewanee Review

Something There Is That Doesn’t Love

We’re in Deutsche camp,
which is a tasteless joke
my friend with the undercut
trolls out of history
like a limp goldfish pulled
out of its bowl. In fact
we’re in Middlebury, VT,
summer of ’14,
and I’ve vowed to unlearn English
for six weeks, so I can get
more Rilke and an A.

But mostly we play soccer,
shirtless against the shirts,
and afterwards we screw
as twenty-somethings do.
We even fall in love,
whispering in the dark
of the campus graveyard
under the sacred oath
of German 101:
—Ich liebe dich, mein Liebling!
—Und ich dich liebe auch!

Weekends we go to Ripton
to hike the Robert Frost
Interpretive Trail.
Yes, there’s a wood with a road
splitting in it, a pile
of timber forever rotting
with the burning of decay
(for the world will end in fire)
and last, the wall! Its faded
placard reads, Something
there is that doesn’t love

It’s 2016,
all that is history.
Now I know lieben from leben,
but Rilke in German feels
like a fish out of water.
The president believes
good fences make good neighbors.
The roads remain divided.
Undercuts are in.
Something that doesn’t love
burns on the streets again.
Originally published by Shenandoah

Wake-up Call

I can see my mother, apron over her nightgown,
setting the table for breakfast, a stack of lavash
steaming at the center, honey and milk skin,
feta with fruit, chickpea-and-chicken hash
dusted with cinnamon. I can see my father,
already in his coveralls and cap,
filling a cup to the brim with hot tapwater
and emptying it into another cup

and emptying that cup into another
until all three are warmed for tea. I can hear
the kettle whistling and pull the covers tight
around my head, against the coming light,
for any moment now they will open the door
and lift the covers and find that I’m not there.

Originally published by Smartish Pace


Waking to your reflection on the pane
blurred already in the maple’s arms
I thought of Orpheus about to look
and Eurydice about to die again
and shut my eyes, letting the night fall back,
which brought me suddenly to the young boy
up early one fall morning long ago,
fumbling for his glasses while the world

seen dimly as through tears or through the window
of the airplane taking him from home that night
receded more the more he tried to look,
as he now vanishes the moment I
open my eyes and find your image too
fading away, the day about to break.

Originally published by AGNI

Coming Out of the Shower

I shut my eyes under the scalding stream
          scrubbing off last night’s dream
when suddenly I hear your voice again
     as though it caught in the clogged drain
and was sent bubbling back up from the other
          world where you’re not my mother.
This time it’s really you. I’m really here.
     I blink. We do not disappear.

Dad left, you say, to shower at the shop
          so I don’t need to stop
just yet—and yet I do, unable to
     resume old customs, unlike you.

In a one-bath four-person household, we
          learned what we mustn’t see,
become, in time, so coolly intimate
     with one another’s silhouette

behind the opaque frosted shower screen
          that once more stands between
us two. While at the mirror you apply
     foundation and concealer, I

wash out my hair with argan oil shampoo,
          which means I’ll smell like you
all day. Mama, I shout, I’m coming out,
     and as you look away I knot

around me tight your lavender robe de chambre,
          cinching my waist, and clamber
out of the tub, taking care not to step
     outside the cotton mat and drip

on the cracked floor you’ve polished with such zeal
          we’re mirrored in each tile.
Yet, you’d forgive the spillage, or forget.
     What else will you love me despite?

Originally published by Literary Matters

27 Marjan Street

The rooms shrink down with each new coat of paint.
The house stays calm. The child inside the house
is also calm, face tucked into mother’s blouse,
but the rooms shrink down with each new coat of paint.

Though the house is gone, the walls will not relent.
No more a child, at every new impasse,
you shrink the rooms with coat on coat of paint
to a house inside that child inside that house.

Originally published by Bat City Review

The HyperTexts