Marine Petrossian is an Armenian poet and writes in Armenian; this poem was translated by the author in collaboration with Arthur Kayzakian. Petrossian is a sly humorist, alert to the edges where violence and etiquette interlace, agitate, and fold. The simple, staccato sentences and repetitions manage to be both playful and canny. The artifice of the speaker’s naïveté is unapologetically visible, and yet somehow we end up not with cynicism or carelessness, but with an expanded field of possible poses, ways of thinking oneself as a political subject. Reading Petrossian’s poem from the South Side of Chicago, we’re reminded that violence is intrinsic to the state form, that it is visible transnationally, and that acknowledging a shared class position might be a remedy against such violence. What novel attitudes can one adopt towards the tools of state oppression, economic disparity, towards fear, disorder, death? Here, to resist is to affirm collective life through improvised action—taken lightly, but revolutionary and life affirming. – The Editors and Poetry Staff
What a nice seaport
what a sunny day
how lovely are the ships
and why is it
none of them is mine?
don’t shoot me
if I pick one of these ships
and sail to play with white whales
do not be afraid no one will know
I will return the ship to the same place
come with me if you like
Translated from Armenian by Arthur Kayzakian in collaboration with the author.