Recent Work By Zach Semel

You know, a mile away / I can smell a child of divorce. / The smokiness of melted wedding rings / and the sheer drama / of custody conflict / settle heavy in their hair. / Trauma inevitably produces / a certain look / in a student’s eyes / a sunken sleeplessness / but to be fair / sleeplessness is usually just attributable / to stress / and school is stressful— / it isn’t a disorder / to just be unhappy. / And please, do not interrupt me / if it was serious, I would notice. / Don’t you know / that $70 t-shirts can’t hide / self-inflicted wounds? / Do you really need a thesaurus / to tell you / that smiles during math class / are synonymous / with nothing / but profound joy? / Why yes, I am still befuddled / by the Challenger disaster / —why do you ask? / It’s a basic question: / how could a screw / have been left loose? / I thought the upper class / had eradicated / brokenness. / And how could anyone / leave this Earth / or make it out / of their house / if some deep, rumbling / part of them / needs repairs? / And if it does / shouldn’t they do what I did / when I was sad for like two months, / once? / That is, / dye their hair pink / send up a low-budget angst flare / bright enough to stand out in / a chattering navy sea / of Georgetown sweatshirt-clad suburbanites? / Why would they not want to / share something with me / and likely be told, / Yes high school is hard / for everyone? / God, did you people really think / you’d have a productive meeting / about supporting mentally ill students?! / What are we, anyway: therapists? / You know, I might’ve trained / as a therapist / but it’s very taxing / to be this skilled / at projecting / my lifelong wellness / onto others. / And no, I know, / what you’re thinking / but I’m not just scared / that my own kids / might actually / go through something / that I can’t / pay their way out of— / I’m very perceptive is all. / Now that I think about it / I actually would’ve made / a great Army sniper, / not because I’m / a stellar shot / but because I’m so good / at having someone / in my sight / and not thinking of them at all.