Fred Schmalz




the undetermined future

nightfall blocks out

other possibilities

gather at the stage door


last inklings slow me

through barricade raised

forced through as open range

in arbor hung inverted


to the searing

last moment of air

particulate air

slowing a spot found


on a wall in the wing

green rectangular light

balance held at speed

the road doesn’t waver


but turns over in its carriage

in an ill-fitted suit

statisticians replace my shoes


a cement block breaks

tree trunks to rubble piled

neatly nightly by stagehands

I can smell myself


salt-stained white

coastline dampered marimba

questions deferred like

who do you live with


how can you trap the sky

in its present state I act

as though every day is

unable to catch me

Close Quarters



brick                brick                     bricklayer



one carried over scaffold

crane            crane              operator


roof re-roofed

skylight now


further from sky

a ton          tonnage


how weighty strong

or stiff sun                   world shouldered


gutted cellar to ceiling

grows from its gutter                an oak


door             next door

neighbors maneuver


into driveways

without complaint


souls compliant                   appear

to love us             let us


loft a tarp into crispened evening

roll back their own


cover         to reveal dilapidation

world without burst pipes


amen         as in agreement


as in second language

meaning more lost than conveyed


hear creator as reactor

envision fallout


can’t go back

every year the disrepair


hear despair           correct to disappear

depends on winter’s


severity                   surveys

homes         steps from the roadway


famished                   hear furnished

pull up the last chair in the room


by this means     (these means)

wounded     wound in gauze


still too far away

to see clearly


in the calamine gloam

not a day stretches


toward its successors

but twilight’s succor         my own reflection


the holding still one             replaced

with         way to go


or where they went

turned green              an abscess


in my absence               certain landmarks

visible from one direction            stand out


leave pets                       plants

the perishable


ovations         moments of silence

greeted as granted


givens            offered without goading

I hound the lost until found


FRED SCHMALZ’s work has appeared in journals including Spinning Jenny, Conduit, Another Chicago Magazine, and We are so happy to know something. He is the author of the field guide Claes Oldenburg’s Festival of Living Objects and the chapbooks Documenta 13 Daybook and Ticket. He publishes handmade editions  under the swerve imprint. He is currently working with the artist Susy Bielak on a project about hotels.