Shahé Mankerian


Only the drunkard in the cardboard
box burns alive after the last blast. 
The taxi driver tapes the cracked 

windshield and offers the priest 
a ride across the bridge. The butcher 
recognizes the scorching smell of flesh 

but returns to pound chicken breasts 
with a mallet. The grandmother 
with a Kalashnikov strapped 

over her shoulder continues to roast 
sunflower seeds. Four truant boys 
resume their game of marbles 

under the scarred mulberry tree. 
Blood drips from the hummingbird’s 
beak as the humdrum traffic builds. 

The baker with a garden hose clears 
the pile of ashes, scattered fingernails, 
melted rubber soles.  

Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School in Pasadena and the co-director of the L.A. Writing Project. He is the recipient of the Los Angeles Music Center’s BRAVO Award, which recognizes teachers for innovation in arts education. In 2016, Mankerian’s poem was a finalist at the Gotham Writers 91-Word Memoir Contest, and the Altadena Poetry Review nominated him for the Pushcart Prize. Recently, Shahé received the 2017 Editors’ Prize from MARY: A Journal of New Writing.