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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 4: July 2020
Poem: 187 words
By Shirley Hakim

No Excuse

“You are late,” I scolded my daughter. 
She moved as slowly as the summer heat. 
I tried not to show the hurricane within me; 
I did not tell her I hate to wait, that waiting 
is like hot popcorn jumping within me, 
each strike on my gut crying out: 
there is no excuse for being late! 

I was having a good time 
at school with my friends, 
getting the attention I craved. 
I was so involved 
in the game of hopscotch 
that I did not hear the voice over the loudspeaker 
announcing that my dad was waiting. 

His face was angry, and red as his big car. 
I climbed into the front seat. 
His eyes looked like two bowls of blood. 
“I am in a big rush, and you are late!” he said. 
He slapped me on my bare leg, 
the only time he laid a hand on me. 

The big car was too small for me. 
I could not breathe. 
My dad’s slap left a red mark on my leg. 
The red mark is still on my heart. 

I did not slap my daughter. 


Shirley Hakim
Issue 4, July 2020

came from Tehran to Los Angeles at age fourteen. She’s a CPA by trade, with a degree in Business-Economics from UCLA. A student of poet/teacher Jack Grapes, Shirley has poetry in English published in ONTHEBUS, as well as in several publications in her native Farsi. Shirley is the mother of three children. She and her husband live in Los Angeles.

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