“In the City of No Children” by Michael Schmeltzer


In the City of No Children

Her open palm —

a map of panic.

Beneath the surface a sewer                  of nerves

fevers the flesh. Flushed,

the mother wipes her forehead

and calls out      the name

of her daughter.

The name

of her daughter

echoes                 like leather

to a slaughtered cow.


The mother claws

the middle of her palm

until blood like a divination  

guides her onward.

A thin dog tugs on a scarf. The black cloth

rips, mimics

the sound of a struck match.

Delirious, the mother spins

as if the sound of a fire lit

were the voice

of her child

rising from the wreckage.

Michael Schmeltzer

Michael Schmeltzer was born and raised in Yokosuka, Japan, and eventually moved to the U.S. He is the author of the collaborative nonfiction book, A Single Throat Opens (which can be described as part memoir, part lyric exploration of addiction), and Blood Song, a Washington State Book Award finalist in poetry. He is the president of Floating Bridge Press in Seattle and can be found procrastinating on Twitter @mschmeltzer01 .

Photo Credit: Staff