Sharif Shakhshir is a Californian poet of Palestinian and Mexican descent. His work is largely inspired by cartoons, politics, and fables. He has studied writing at USC and UCI. He’s currently an animation student at the American Animation Institute. His poetry has appeared in The Anthology of Writing that Risks, West Wind and Razor House.
The number 99
An Olympian in 4th place
A unicorn with a second horn
The sled dog behind Balto
Pluto, both the celestial body and the cartoon dog
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen
Last year’s Christmas presents
Last year’s phone
Last year’s designer clothes
Last year’s Valentine’s Day candy
That Halloween you stood me up to stay at home and watch scary movies alone
The best hiding spot after it’s been discovered
The way you made me feel when you lied to me
The way you make yourself feel when you lie to yourself.
Boron and fluorine
A 720p television
An A minus
A B plus
A kiss on the lips turned into a kiss on the cheek at the last second
The day before the day someone dies
The day I told you I’d had enough of the waiting
The dog you get after your childhood dog dies
The man you got who wasn’t me
The letter you wrote to win me back
A new certified used car
A new car with a scratch on it
A Ford Mustang with automatic transmission
The drive to San Diego, where I would see your face
The memories of what little we had.
You’re in a room of guns, revolvers.
Many are similar;
each is unique:
make, fit, feel, shape, spirit.
All are broken somehow.
Three bullets, six chambers.
There’s no clock in the room,
but time is urging you to choose.
You’ll look for something familiar,
like a gun you had when you were younger,
wondering if it cycled here to bring its warmth
back to your cold fingers.
Pick one that excites you,
but before you commit and put it to your head
ask Which one won’t destroy me?
Which one would I like to die with?
Erasing and Redrawing
Scraping my pencil
against Bristol paper
the cartoon won’t look like
how I drew it before.
Enough! the pencil cried,
This is my bone on the page!
And you use my feet
to grind my graphite blood gone.
You sharpen me
when you throw away my flesh.
A Marmaduke mug of pencils tipped over
and soon a small army was bouncing
like pendulums, taking steps
on their erasers. Little militant spears
hobbling to war, as I watched
like a slave owner
whose property suddenly became human
worried about how their history will write me
and how carefully worded it must be.