I Didn’t Want Mama to Kiss Me Anymore
by Shahé Mankerian

Every morning, she drove me to school
in Father’s Chevrolet. The radio spewed static.

She parked crooked by the curb and allowed
the engine to idle so it won’t die. The heavy

metal clique against the no parking wall
smoked cigarettes. Mama with her maroon

lipstick reached over and kissed me
underneath the twisted sycamore. I rubbed

my face and prayed Syliva, the girl I loved
since seventh grade, never saw this. Once,

during English period, Mrs. Reyna, read
my poem to the class: When you turn

seventeen, cram Mama in a box, duct tape
the lids quickly, so she’ll never come out.

PHOTO: The author at 17.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wanted to recreate the classic Freudian mother-and-son tension in the poem. If Sophocles claimed, “Sons are the anchors of a mother’s life,” then I wanted to break the chain that linked them together. High school years are the perfect catalyst for such breakups. Overnight, boys discover girls, and mothers come face-to-face with their dreaded kryptonite.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California, and the co-director of the Los Angeles Writing Project. As an educator, he has been honored with the Los Angeles Music Center’s BRAVO Award, which recognizes teachers for innovation and excellence in arts education. His 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.