27 July 2010 | Vol. 10, No. 2

The Owners, the Animals

The officer shot the chimp

after it ripped from a woman

her eyes, nose, jaw. Chunks

of scalp and hair torn out.

As if weeds, as if gardener.

And the chimp's owner swore

to the reporter she'd do it again,

raise the creature as offspring until

the mauling, the demolished

face, the frenzy, the bullets

piercing the animal flesh,

again. What stunned the reporter

didn't shock me. Some of us

toast the feral beasts and drink

to the owners because we, too,

repeat the great mistake

of love. Even now, years after

my friend's wife dreamt she evolved

from birds with hollow bones

like wineglass stems.

Years after I proved this true

by touching her lips

with a trembling, wet fingertip

and she sang. I'd do it all again,

the finger, the singing, and again without

warning, what we thought

was tame would unavoidably turn

brutal and against us.

About the author:

Michael Schmeltzer earned an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. He helps manage A River & Sound Review and is a two-time nominee of the Pushcart Prize. His work appears or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Water~Stone Review, Main Street Rag, Crab Creek Review, and Fourteen Hills, among others. He lives in Seattle with his family.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Michael Schmeltzer at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 10, No. 2, where "The Owners, the Animals" ran on July 27, 2010. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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