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The Literary Groong - 02/05/2005

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	By William Michaelian

	In my dream, the men breaking rocks
	tell me the old man is crazy.
	I say, "What old man?
	None of you is over thirty."
	"You know," one says. "The Armenian."
	I smile and light a cigarette. It's true.
	Every Armenian I've ever known is old.
	The damn fools are born that way.

	I go to where the Armenian is working.
	I stand behind him and watch awhile
	as he steadily, patiently, breaks rocks.
	They're right, I think. He is crazy.
	Even here, under this merciless sun,
	nothing is more important to him
	than doing the job right. As if it mattered.
	As if he were being paid.

	The Armenian strikes the rocks with reverence,
	treating them like diamonds or piano keys.
	Finally, growing impatient, I say to him,
	"Hey, what are you doing there, old man?"
	I poke the barrel of my gun into his ribs.
	The old man, the Armenian, stops working.
	He slowly puts down his hammer,
	straightens his back, and turns around.

	He looks at me, but says nothing.
	Instead, he lets the suffering in his eyes
	speak for him, the anger and disappointment.
	To hide my shame, I spit on the ground,
	then inhale smoke from my cigarette.
	The Armenian starts working again.
	I walk away. The men breaking rocks smile,
	but they don't say a word.

Several of William Michaelian's poems and short stories have appeared
in Ararat. Many have also been translated into Armenian, and have been
published in Yerevan in Garun, Grakan Tert, Aghpyur, and Artasamanyan
Grakanutyun. The author maintains an extensive website at

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