United States of Love by Arminé Iknadossian

California Love Poem

The sun has an orgasm across the valley
as Pasadena opens up in front of me,
the Suicide Bridge pushing an arm out
of green sleeves, orange blossoms keening
after a mid-spring heatwave,
the Rose Bowl yawning in a ravine.

It is not enough to love the one you love,
to drive towards the ocean just to fall
into bed with them, then return home
alone, drowsy from no sleep and sex in a strange bed.
You want to keep driving East towards
black rocks and tarantulas of Nevada

or South towards the unilateral mirage of water
where the Salton Sea groans in her deadwood hammock.
On a map, California looks like she’s hugging the continent
and Nevada is leaning in for a deep kiss.
She is tentative, he is a sharp-tongued,
diamond-studded menace, kissing her
and at the same time, pushing her into the ocean.

Excerpted from the “United States of Love & Other Poems” by Arminé Iknadossian

Two Lovers Asleep

Like mountain ranges
in a desert, one behind the other,

they settle softly into territory.
Clouds hide the sun from the summit

of his shoulder. Her aquiline hip
curves into ravine. Two bodies:

Solid symmetry, transient flesh
tempered by sun and time,

the winds of ages. Sweat
descends the slope of his neck.

On the ridge of her belly, a scar
marks a fissure. This is where

the earth shook, continents married,
flesh merged into flesh. New worlds

with names like borrowed clothes
still hide under earth’s worn mattress,

still challenge boundaries
and all the rules that come with countries.

Excerpted from the “United States of Love & Other Poems” by Arminé Iknadossian


Today, I Vote

I blow into empty eye sockets
and hear the whistle of the slave mind;
the hive mind.

When the earth shivers, her spine loosens,
contracts, releases, contracts.
We all stumble around like flees
in her jungles and forests.
We hold on to both sides of the lifeboat
as we flow into her angry breast

Today, the appeals go unanswered,
the rummage sale for Syrian villages and young women.

And everyone will join hands and cheer,
“We defeated fascism! Yay for us! We did good!”
while rubber bullets bruise the Natives,
while slave labor continues in prisons,
while refugees wash up on the shores.

Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
Surely you don’t want _______ to win!
That’s not an election; that’s extortion.

And hey white women,
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
Sojourner Truth was a suffragette too!
How many I VOTED stickers will be placed on her tombstone?

Today a girl in Gaza makes buildings out of ash
(this is not a metaphor).
Her name is Majd Al-Masharawy,
and she calls the bricks Green Cake.
Green like grass and money.
Cake like rich, sweet desserts.
I would like to vote for Majd.
How much sugar can I send her?
I would like to send her all the sugar in the world.

From Selma to Saigon

you tried to wipe the cataracts from our minds,
but you died before
you could see us for who we really are:
crippled in East Harlem,
dying on the television screen,
killing in brutal solidarity.
You could not be silent
so you dove deeper
into the ghettos,
into the arms of angry young men
holding molotov cocktails
to their broken hearts.
Is there a right side
to revolution? you asked.
What is the color of truth?
How many soldiers does it take
to bring peace on earth?
Is a charred brown body the new crucifixion?


Arminé Iknadossian

Arminé Iknadossian is the associate poetry editor for Angels Flight • literary west. In 2015, she retired from teaching in order to support the literary arts and to focus on her two manuscripts, “god(l)ess: the L is silent” and “Resident Alien”. She currently is a bookstore manager at Beyond Baroque Bookstore AKA The Scott Wannberg Poetry Lounge, where her newly released chapbook, “United States of Love & Other Poems,” may be purchased. Armine was selected to serve as a Writer in the Schools (WITS) for Red Hen Press this fall. She holds a master’s degree in Poetry from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and a BA in English and Poetry from UCLA. Please visit www.armineiknadossian.com to view her previously published and ongoing work.

Meet Arminé Iknadossian at Poetry Postcards this Saturday, 11-3, at Beyond Baroque with AFLW contributors, CLS Ferguson, Rich Ferguson and Brian Sonia-Wallace, among other co-facilitators at this special resistance event. For more details and to RSVP, click here.

Author photo by Xenia Digital

Feature photo: “Colorado Bridge AKA Suicide Bridge From the Freeway Just After Dawn Rain” by Michele Raphael