NOSE BLIND by Michael Chin

During my love affair with the mermaid
I grew so accustomed to sand
and salt water that I couldn’t
smell them anymore.
She had the slickest skin.

If you ever make love with a mermaid
know they enjoy breath play
and they’ll want red meat
tired of shellfish and bird flesh.
Know their tails are strong 
enough to keep you both waist-deep 
as long as they’d like
stomach to stomach.

My friends never learned the mermaid’s name.
She was always The Mermaid 
like that college girlfriend they only remembered as Purple Hair 
or the one who studied abroad, 
they called Edinburgh.
Reduce a woman to a mnemonic.

I woke up beached.
They thought I might’ve been shipwrecked
shirt tattered and half drowned.
I could tell by the one’s expression 
I must’ve stunk.
I tried to tell them,
If you ever fall in love with a mermaid—
but there was too much water 
in my lungs 
not to double over coughing.
And I was alone.
We’re all alone on land
doomed to crawl across space 
if only, if only
we could swim dry.

Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife and son. He is the author of three full-length short story collections and his debut novel, My Grandfather’s an Immigrant and So is Yours came out from Cowboy Jamboree Press in 2021. Chin won the 2017-2018 Jean Leiby Chapbook Award from The Florida Review and Bayou Magazine’s 2014 James Knudsen Prize for Fiction. Find him online at and follow him on Twitter @miketchin.