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Monday, April 04, 2005


by Shahé Mankerian

Where have you come from and where are you going? – Genesis XVI:8

I come from a city where the wells are dry,
and the walls divide the sliver moon
from the sapphire star.

I come from a land where women,
barren by choice,
refuse to feed the children to the war.

The fish no longer swim near the cliffs,
and fishermen eat carcass for breakfast.

The bang of the backgammon silences
the streetwalkers permanently;
the click of their heels rest
against the fallen cedars of Solomon.

The donkey strikes the tendon
attached to the socket of the hip.
Our common thread is the flesh-eating fly,
and the bullet that does not discriminate

the children of Jacob and Esau—
locked in the womb of the countryside,
separated by the burning stew.

The sun rises and sets
in this land of sour milk and wild honey.

Where are you going?
“I’m running away from my mistress…”

Where are you going?
“I’m running away.”

Where are you going?
“I’m running.”

Shahé Mankerian spent his formative years in Beirut, Lebanon. He migrated to Los Angeles in 1979. He received his graduate degree in English from California State University, Los Angeles in 2000. Los Angeles Poetry Festival recognized him as one of the newer voices of 2001. In 2002, he was featured as a guest poet on Inspiration House with Peter Harris on KPFK. 2003 was a busy year for Shahé. He won both Erika Mumford Prize and Daniel Varoujan Award from the New England Poetry Club. Writers at Work selected one of his poems for the Common Prayers project. In the summer of 2004, he was a recipient of a writing grant from the Los Angeles Writer’s Project. Recently, Edifice Wrecked nominated Mankerian’s poem “She’s Hiding My Keys” for the 2004 Pushcart Prize.