Michael Schmeltzer

Personal Ad #4 (Once I Lost Sleep the World Made Sense)

I don’t sleep well
which suits me. I like infomercials
and how impossible
everyday tasks appear.
It’s the only thing on TV
that shows life as is: mundane
and difficult. But I also like
how excited the audience gets.
I want to find that kind of bliss.
I like the word ‘daybreak’
but don’t actually like daybreak;
I prefer ash to a freshly rolled cigarette,
if you know what I mean.
My mother smoked in the morning
the way most people ate breakfast.
When I think back I picture her
chewing cigarettes like cud
between sips of black coffee. I’m sure
she didn’t. Memory is funny like that.
I worry about aging
as often as I worry about milk
already soured.
Are you old enough to remember Columbus Day
as a good thing?
I’m not sure what we celebrate anymore.
I drink screwdrivers to cope
with my father’s drinking
which is why I sympathize with foxes
gnawing off their own legs.
Fight teeth with teeth,
no one ever said. Do you know
how many wisdoms I’ve misheard in my life?
Enough to know darkness.
Enough to know two wrongs
never made a light.

Michael Schmeltzer earned an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop. He has been a finalist for the Four Way Books Intro Prize and the OSU Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. He helps edit A River & Sound Review and has been published in Natural Bridge, Mid-American Review, Water~Stone Review, New York Quarterly, and PANK, among others.