They Eat Dog, You Know by Michael Schmeltzer


Yes, in the great war
we massacred dogs.

Afterward we ate them
roasted over fires.

Wag your tongues all you want.
We ate our enemies

and their families, too.
We ate the bamboo forests,

delicious as arrows
of asparagus, the mountains with teeth

like sticks of dynamite.
The shrines and the names

of all our dead digested
in our stomachs.

Limb by limb the nations
we swallowed. Judge us,

you and your kin
who have never been

this hungry.


I heard the joke about the Asian

restaurant serving canine,
the one about naming their kids

after the clang of utensils
thrown down the stairs.

It’s only funny to Americans
who haven’t watched

a starving father
use a chunk of flesh

to fish
for dogs who were also starving.

It’s only funny if you don’t
come home

empty-handed, chewing your child’s name
like a piece of fat.


Stab our meat with a fork.
Call it hunting.

Put our chopsticks in your hair
and call it fashion.

We welcome you
into our homes. Opulent

obeisance, we’ve cooked
the most elaborate meal

you can’t pronounce,
one you never had to call

sweetly to slaughter.


Michael Schmeltzer was born and raised in Japan before moving to the US. He is the co-author of the nonfiction book A Single Throat Opens, a lyric exploration of addiction and family, and his debut Blood Song was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award for Poetry. He is a 2019 Jack Straw Writing Fellow and serves as President of Floating Bridge Press. He lives in Seattle with his family.