Don’t Forget Aleppo

O—words uttered by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş who assassinated the Russian ambassador at an art exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, on the eve of December 19, 2016


Read by Jeff Ward

I lost my first tooth in Aleppo.
Mother and I scampered in a maze
of cobblestones. The echoes

from her heels reverted the eyes
of backgammon players on rooftops.
She hopped over the makeshift

crutch of the limbless beggar.
His urine smelled of persimmons.
The stray dog howled at the sashay

of Mother’s gingham skirt;
I scurried behind her toward the bell
tower of Forty Martyrs Church.

If you want straight teeth, you must
place your canine in the cracks
of the Cathedral. But my teeth

came out crooked. I have rotten
back molars. I’ve learned to smile
without showing teeth.  

Shahé Mankerian’s most recent manuscript, “History of Forgetfulness,” has been a finalist at four prestigious competitions: the 2013 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, the 2013 Bibby First Book Competition, the Quercus Review Press, Fall Poetry Book Award, 2013, and the 2014 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. His poems have been published in numerous literary magazines.

Image Credit: Kirk Jordan

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