» Poetry

Your Name in F# Major

A flamingo of a man in a pink-blush tux

plunked a single piano key repeatedly


for nearly an hour.

By the end of the evening


I heard such gorgeous silence

and sobbed. My mind


was in brambles and the notes he pecked

all hatched like eggs at once.


Every flap, every cheep

became your name and I became


a mockingbird. I said your name

as if I were your brother and just caught


you snooping in my desk

for the cigarettes I kept hidden.


Then I said your name

with the reverence of a child


learning his mother existed

as before-mother for the first time,


reconciling one identity with another.

Now I say it like we just met,


introduced by a mutual friend

we later admit we never liked.


I’m trying to commit

the syllables to memory


without making it obvious. Hi,

it’s nice to meet you. It’s nice


to see you again. Hi. It’s so nice. Your name.

I say it so often it loses meaning


the way cotton candy dissolves

so humbly and quickly


into a glass of water but the water

is delightfully altered, and I don’t remember


your face anymore

but you’re in the swirl,


and I drink and drink and

stay, please, with me, I am chapped,


chirping, I’m spun, oh sugar, oh

sweet, your


name, oh your name, your

sweet, invisible name.



Michael Schmeltzer

Michael Schmeltzer is a biracial author originally from Japan. His most recent book, Empire of Surrender, is the winner of the Wandering Aengus Book Award. Along with Meghan McClure, he is the co-author of the nonfiction book A Single Throat Opens, a lyric exploration of addiction and family. His debut full-length, Blood Song, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award in Poetry, the Julie Suk Award, and the Coil Book Award. His honors include a Jack Straw Fellowship, the Gulf Stream Award for Poetry, and Blue Earth Review's Flash Fiction Prize. Schmeltzer lives in Seattle, where he serves as the editor-in-chief of Floating Bridge Press.