Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Amending the American Cuisine

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Mama sprinkled sumac on greasy burgers
because fast food smelled like burning tires.

Aleppo pepper drizzled like red rain
on the macaroni and cheese. She added

a pinch of cumin on the Cobb salad
because the ranch dressing felt naked

on her tongue. Every dish needed olive oil.
The tap water needed sprigs of mint

because it tasted like gun barrel rust.
In American supermarkets, plastic containers

packaged the dark roast like rodent droppings.
She read in the coffee residue, the fiery

roadblocks of Beirut, the engulfing belly
of the black smoke, and the scorching virgins

clawing against the wall of her demitasse.


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. In 2017, three literary journals, Border CrossingCahoodaloodaling, and Lunch Ticket nominated Mankerian’s poems for the Pushcart Prize. Recently, Shahé received the 2017 Editors’ Prize from MARY: A Journal of New Writing.


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This made me gasp with the weight of this mother's memories and her struggle to amend them. Humbling!
Thank you. This was a hard one to write. It means a lot that you were moved by the poem.
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