Ronald Dzerigian

Chopping Wood to Build a House

         for my wife

Honey, let us wet the backs of our shirts
         upon the lawn as we hear the branches move

against each other in this city, in the hum of carpenter
         bees inside our heads as we contemplate webs of dead

spiders and termite frass in the halls of the mid-century home
         we cannot afford, in classrooms of children, down deep

in the desire to make another, in university debts,
         janitorial jobs, in empty birdhouses and lava rock

paths, in the holes of trees as the humming
         continues to dig and dig and dig.

Two Brothers in the Woods When the Bees Have Left

         for Jake

We dig our hands into the fallen pine,
wet, moss-covered and cobwebbed; the pieces
fall apart. The pearl-yellow termites pour
out. Legs that seem supple and translucent
in the timber-scattered light carry their
tracks across our forearms. We shake them off
like almond blossoms.

                                We dig, gather pulp
beneath fingernails. My brother pulls back
a shield of bark. A knot unplugs the damp
black; gold bleeds out. Our palms cup the honey.
Floating wax sinks and turns in the shallow
amber we bring to our lips. The crickets
go silent, the pines stand still, and we drink.

Author Portrait

Ronald Lawrence Dzerigian was born in Fresno, CA. He currently resides in a small farming community just outside the Fresno city limits with his wife and two daughters, where he enjoys falling asleep to distant coyote yips. His work has appeared in Perfume River, The Winter Anthology, and in a collection of Central Valley poets, published by the William Saroyan Society in 2002, entitled Armenian Town. He received the C.G. Hanzlicek Fellowship while working on his MFA at California State University, Fresno and has been a two-time recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Ernesto Trejo Memorial Prize in 2014/15.