To Forgive or Not to Forgive (poems)

By Alan Whitehorn, Yerevan, Armenia. May 2010

To Forgive or Not to Forgive
May 20, 2010

The beautiful young woman asked:
Can you forgive
without an apology?
I have wrestled with that question
for ever so long.

I can forgive a child
who has been miseducated.
I can forgive an elder person
who can no longer reason fully.
I can forgive a semi-literate farmer
who knows so little about politics.
I can forgive a generation
that was not then born.

But I cannot forgive
a state official
who actively and knowingly denies.
I cannot forgive a regime
that allows the further destruction of sacred ancient ruins.
I cannot forgive a government
that threatens those who dare to speak up.

I can forgive,
but I cannot forget.
I am still resolute
to teach
to write
to seek justice.
To do otherwise,
I could not forgive.


By Alan Whitehorn, Yerevan, Armenia. May 2010

To Forgive or Not to Forgive
May 20, 2010

The beautiful young woman asked:
Can you forgive
without an apology?
I have wrestled with that question
for ever so long.

I can forgive a child
who has been miseducated.
I can forgive an elder person
who can no longer reason fully.
I can forgive a semi-literate farmer
who knows so little about politics.
I can forgive a generation
that was not then born.

But I cannot forgive
a state official
who actively and knowingly denies.
I cannot forgive a regime
that allows the further destruction of sacred ancient ruins.
I cannot forgive a government
that threatens those who dare to speak up.

I can forgive,
but I cannot forget.
I am still resolute
to teach
to write
to seek justice.
To do otherwise,
I could not forgive.

Armenian Dream
May 19, 2010

I must say my drama these days is hearing the stories of people’s lives
here in Armenia.
I listen intently to the great difficulties they must overcome just to survive.
I had a long conversation the other day with several young persons
and they were very pessimistic about Armenia’s future.
It is very sad to hear bright, hardworking, and compassionate persons
have so little hope for their beloved country and their own personal future.
It is a bit humbling to see how much they must do and yet achieve so little.
This is a convoluted way of saying I see lots of drama
and it is far, far too real.
I understand why so many young Armenians feel they must leave
their historic homeland.
I also know why some diaspora Armenians keep coming back.
Both have a sense of great concern for an entire nation.
I share that concern,
and seek to help in ways that I can do best.
Working together,
perhaps we can hope for a better tomorrow.
In the meantime,
the difficult work of today continues.

Cafesjian Cascade Café
May 19, 2010

At the top
of the newly refurbished Cascade,
there is a special chamber
of the dramatic Cafesjian Museum.
During the day,
the chamber is an amphitheatre for art films.
But at night,
it is majestically transformed
into a tiered bar and lounge,
where a jazz sextet perform.
Behind the musicians,
a grand floor to ceiling glass wall
reveals a descending sunset
and a panoramic view of Mt. Ararat.
It is an unfolding evolving mural,
full of color and splendor.
Past painful history,
future hopes,
and the joyful present,
all converge magically .
Meanwhile,
we are in awe of the sights and sounds.
Another Sambucca, khentrum em
Bari yereko
Bari gisher
Bari yerazner
Tomorrow will soon come.

Ani Plaza Learning
May 17, 2010

In my efforts to learn the Armenian alphabet,
I have struggled for a very long time.
Over the past year,
I have practiced each day the complex sounds
and sought to discern the multitude of ornate letters,
not to mention trying to pick up some vocabulary and grammar.
While in Yerevan, my home in Armenia,
the kind staff at the Ani Plaza have become engaged
in a massive, collective education effort.
They say it takes a village to raise a child.
I suspect it takes an entire hotel
to educate an elderly professor in Armenian.
Bari hajoghutyun.

[good luck]

I came to the Ani Plaza as a political science professor,
but a poet is leaving.

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