Diana Der-Hovanessian



“Love is not all. It is not food nor drink.” Edna
St. Vincent Millay

Nor is food love, but palate’s sport alone.

Even with ceremony, without toast or vow,

it is just means of keeping flesh on bone. 

But table and altar are confused somehow. 

We substitute our food, again, again

for rites of love.  Look how this buffet sinks 

with golden fowl and platters of grain 

and candles for our eyes to drink.

Love is not food, but in the name of those

with parched throats, who could not eat

or pray, whose empty mouths have closed

whose bellies swelled with pain not meat

we call it sustenance when it is shared.

And sharing we call prayer.


Once Sona gave me an angel. Or I should say
a drawing of one sprinkling stars
like snow, inscribing it, "Diana scattering
light."  Not mother, not mommy, not mom —
she used my name.  I taped it to the door
of her old room and there it stayed until

it came to life today.  Walking in Somerville
I saw a woman in an empty parking lot
scattering crumbs St. Francis style
to swarming pigeons at her feet,
Sona’s angel strewing stars, chatting as regent,
angel, queen, — bag lady no more, but mother
feeding her children, dispensing grace.


I was the child who swallowed whole
the sight of showmen eating fire,
flying rabbits on piano wire,
every happy ending told,
sure that straw could spin to gold. 

I grew older. Gold spun back to straw.
I learned miracles could lie
only in the beholder’s eye.
Stayed jaded until the day I saw
two eyes fill with my old awe.



When your father dies, say the Irish

you lose your umbrella against bad weather.

May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.


When your father dies, say the Welsh

you sink a foot deeper into the earth.

May you inherit his light, say the Armenians


When your father dies, say the Canadians

you run out of excuses.

May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.


When your father dies, say the Indians

he comes back as the thunder.

May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.


When your father dies, say the Russians,

he takes your childhood with him.

May you inherit his light say the Armenians.


When your father dies, say the British,

you join his club you vowed you wouldn’t.

May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.


When your father dies, say the Armenians,

your sun shifts forever

and you walk in his light.


death lies beside each sleeper

that day wakes up

stalks every step

puts down the heel

that pace picks up again

and exhales every breath

except where love breathes in




A blue heron

is bending in the rain

fishing for summer

in the river.


A boy walks

with pail and pole

across this dream

toward his own



I will wake

in a little while

old and in the north.


A blue heron

will be bending outside

in the snow.


I saw it shining
in the snow
outside the used car
display store
and asked the salesman
what it was.
"A Porsche Poem,"
he said, "What's more,
it's not for you.
Too much power.
It goes too fast.
But uses very
little gas."

"I'll take it. It's my car!"
I said, placing a down
payment down and fled.

when other cars
passed by
I'd laugh, knowing,
if I chose...
I fly.

On a Line by Brian Phillips, a poem on the AGNI website