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Charif Shanahan

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Charif Shanahan

Charif Shanahan is the author of Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing (Southern Illinois University Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and for the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. A Wallace Stegner Fellow, he was recently named a Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University. He is the recipient of a 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Originally from the Bronx, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

by this poet


When he finally brought the hammer down
One half-inch from my mother’s face

The hole in the wall
Wide as a silver dollar

I was close enough
Huddled there

In the folds of her lap
Her arms wet with sweat and crossed

Against my back
And since from the room


A second death in as many days and I succeed at being 
Strong and contained, until the tweet 
Where one young brother says I’m not scared of dying,
I’m scared of breaking my mother’s heart. I am flesh
Two rooms down the hall from my mother’s flesh
Holding in my hands the news