Mesrobians Go Thrifting

Michael Schmeltzer

~to Carrie Mesrobian
In other words we sift through the sad lives
of the tasteless, their grotesque
paintings of bald eagles and motorcycles.
In other words box after box of dust
and flannel shirts. A frame chipped by a tooth
and that tooth, too, marked down. In other words
a sale on the very things that define us.
Someone in the book aisle
thumbs through a used Limbaugh
and cannot stop himself
from quoting and laughing, quoting and laughing.
In other words dull tools.
In other words pink pencil sharpeners, erasers
grinding away every mistake
we pawn onto others. In other words
a candle that glows the halo
of Mother Mary, and her Son, and whatever
Father. In other words what father.
In other words no words
exchanged in some time
and there is a rotary phone
I pick up and dial
zero zero zero zero
and watch all those boulders
roll back to the bottom of that hill
where my father is buried and I ask how
are you to the air and are
you happy and of course no
one answers and a clerk asks everything
okay? and I say it’s only
a dollar and I’d take if I knew
how to call home.

MICHAEL SCHMELTZER earned an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop. His honors include the Gulf Stream Award for Poetry and the Blue Earth Review’s Flash Fiction Prize but his list of dishonors is even more impressive. He has been a finalist for the Four Way Books Intro and Levis Prizes, the OSU Press/The Journal Award in Poetry, and the Slapering Hol chapbook contest. He helps edit A River & Sound Review and has been published in PANK, Natural Bridge, Mid-American Review, Water~Stone Review, and New York Quarterly, among others.