The tall grass grows
at the northern edge of the peninsula
where rodents scuttle like electricity.
Mom says, “There is evil out there:
monsters, thieves, gamblers,
and people who aim to gain from your failure.
But there are no badges of honor
for staying home.
The way a brush must leave the pallet
to make something great,
you must leave.
There is evil out there,
and fight it
or join it,
you will find yourself
in the kind of people you help.
but with a little god in your pocket
You’ll never go alone
through the tall grass
to the adventures beyond.”
Sharif Shakhshir is a writer of both Palestinian and Mexican descent, though he was born and raised in Southern California. His first name means “honest,” and his last name means “ruler of the king.” As his Arabic name suggests, his writing is known for making uncomfortably true jabs at the status quo. His work has appeared in The Anthology of Writing that Risks, West Wind, and Razorhouse. His favorite animal is the unicorn.