MICHAEL SCHMELTZER Into the Air Like an Owl


There are things you should know about me.
Once when I was a child I sleepwalked

out of our nylon tent and off
the camping trail. I woke

in the labyrinth of the forest.
And because the forest is god

and the dark is the devil all around
I didn’t know where

to put my faith. I wandered
and did what any child would;

first, I cried.
Then, I made a deal.


I met a man who made the wild
even more so,

and his beard, gnarled,
appeared as if tangled with twigs.

Into the air
his wet breath like an owl, hunting,

there in the woods
where the silence made me

He crawled to me. He mouthed things.

If I were god I would have
crushed him down to a pellet. If I were

the devil
I would have done the same.



Michael Schmeltzer is the author of Elegy/Elk River (Floating Bridge Press, 2015) winner of the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award, and Blood Song (Two Sylvias Press, 2016), his debut full-length. His debut nonfiction book, A Single Throat Opens, written in collaboration with Meghan McClure, was published by Black Lawrence Press. He was born in Yokosuka, Japan, and currently lives in Seattle.