Skip to content

Sky Full of Metal

by Michael Dwayne Smith

Indulgence, disappointment, and regret. These are his children. The car starts, and the man is on his way to work. Where everything stalls. He used to ignore his father, indignant advice going to voicemail. Too late again. The father dead, shredded by relentlessness, and after the funeral, the man takes to sleeping in. His boss has an eye trained. His boss witness to a crime. What the man wants is spectacle. What the woman wants is flight. He drives with a bottle of Jack to the airport. Parks by a runway framed in chain link. This way his wails are overwhelmed by raging engines. This way he relives childhood. The woman rides along one Tuesday night. Wants to take things into her own hands. To act. Savior, though for whom she never says. When the jet roars, he rattles the fence and she runs to him accidentally. This way she relives the crash. She clutches his coat. Shouts Planes can’t talk in his good ear. Sour vacuum of silence rushing in, he turns to say Planes don’t really take you anywhere. Nobody gets better or worse. The technology keeps working. Everyone plays their part: the man unemployed, the woman divorced, the car run into a guardrail. His father turns out not to be the pilot, but a grey bird, sheared feathers scattered to sea. The kid is here because of the crash. Relives it every day, the boy always trying to break into the house. The man and the woman breaking out. This design is precise, impressive. The boy a machine, invented to destroy. Planned obsolescence. Indulgent, disappointed, flying into the past with a hot steel fist.

Michael Dwayne Smith is a California desert native and graduate of U.C. Riverside’s creative writing program. He reifies as writer, professor, editor, publisher, organizer, photographer, and like manifestations. His apparitions haunt burntdistrict, Word Riot, decomP, Heavy Feather Review, Monkeybicycle, The Cortland Review, and similarly mysterious literary houses. He lives near a ghost town with his wife and rescued animals—all of whom talk in their sleep.

Lead image: “Active Runway” (via Flickr user Peter Alfred Hess)