Proof of Life


poems by

David Garyan

ISBN: 978 1-59948-626-0, ~36 pages, $11

Release Date: April 4, 2017


dgaryan_bookstoreDavid Garyan’s first chapbook, Skeletons of Ghosts, was published by Main Street Rag. He received an MA from Cal State Long Beach and is finishing up his MFA there. If poetry did not occupy so much of his time, he would most likely be found hiking one of the many mountains that California has to offer. When the rain does finally come, he misses the mountains less and prefers to write more poetry at home.

Born in Armenia, raised in Armenia, Germany, and the US, David Garyan currently resides in California. In Proof of Life, he writes poems of exile, where spirit, language, and landscape are mourned and questioned—I wasn’t born to leave my mother tongue. These are poems haunted by shadows of alienation. The poet wanders, searches, experiments—To stay alive, I must never forget how water tastes, and put extra salt on my food. The poems in David’s book live on the street, in the mind, at the juncture of hope, despair, resistance, and acceptance, arriving at a final state of resignation where loneliness welcomes him. The poet perseveres. —Jacqueline Derner Tchakalian


There is a loneliness in David Garyan’s work that is absolutely human. His wanderer or out of town visitor seems lost all the time, trying to get through a world that is complex and confusing. In this way, he is writing the life of every person. He is reflecting back to how we feel most of the time. I like Garyan’s poetry. He is right about the world, but his work makes life a little more possible. —John Brantingham

Origins Lost


I wasn’t born to leave
my mother tongue.
Where are the words
that can bond
my estranged cultures?
Abroad, I acquired languages
that leave me speechless
in the societies they’re used.
To survive, I pronounce sorrow
in strange dialects—
hope strangers mistranslate
my plight into glory.
All day my mind crosses
linguistic fault lines ready to rupture.
I choose familiar sides of the argument,
pressure all opposition,
until the right expressions
release earthquakes of contempt.
My mouth is a semantic explosive
running out of time,
but I don’t know
which opinions to cut.
At home, I kneel
and pray to the ground
from which I ripped out my roots.
I walk blindfolded
on the streets of my youth;
unable to see the map of forgiveness
that can lead me back home.



Moving Forward in Circles

Rays pierce my eyes
in the morning—
I withdraw.
It’s much easier to wake up
at night;
silence rambles
with an accent
and darkness is so thick
that coyote footsteps
can be felt from the hills.

Where did I throw
the wallet last night?
Where did I put the keys—
I’m sure a friend drove…
or I took a cab?
When yesterday surrenders
to bad memory,
all evidence of the past
becomes too dim
under light;
now the bark
of my neighbor’s black
dog must be tolerated.



Proof of Life

Every breath
lingers with air
that’s inhaled
by the open window.

A long time has passed since I emptied
since my

encompassed the same
Sleep walks away from me;
I can’t dream
or lose consciousness.

It’s always easier
to shine under light,
but closer friends
say I’m warmer
when there’s no moon out.

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