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.