Skip to content →

Category archive for: Michael Dickman

False Start (excerpt)

At the end of one of the billion light-years of loneliness

My mother sits on the floor of her new kitchen carefully feeding the flies
from her fingertips

All the lights in the house are on so it must be summer

Wings the color of her nail polish

I like to sit on the floor next to her and tell her what a good job she’s
doing

You’re doing such a good job Mom

She’s very patient with the ones who refuse to swallow

She hums a little song and shoves the food in

They still have all their wings

It takes a long time because no one is hungry

At the end of one of the billion light-years of loneliness

My father trains the flies to walk from one end of his fingers to the other

One fly for every finger

It’s going to make him rich

Their brains the color of his brain

All the nerves in your hands getting stepped on at once is very calming

Like being a pine tree

Next he’s going to train them to walk across his eyelids

How to hide in the holes in his teeth

When he sings and he never sings we will see wings and brains

At the end of one of the billion light-years of loneliness

I stuff my mom and dad into a little red wagon and drag them out
into the ocean

Waves the color of their eyelids

Beach glass

I swim alongside and tell them how good they look

Washed in salt

They haven’t seen each other in a very long time so I wait awhile before
hauling them back

Hauling them out of the underworld

The overworld

Dragging them out of their mansions of snow

from FliesFind it in the library

Copyright © 2011 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

The Sea (excerpt)

My mother floats across the floor of our kitchen and kisses me
on the forehead

My second memory

second

sea

Smoking a cigarette

She’s alive

but she’s acting

like she’s

dead

That watery light people get sometimes

when they’re first arriving

and when

they’re

leaving for good

The cigarette ash falling

into the sink

it

sounds like the sea

The foghorns

are spelling someone’s

name

Not your name

Maybe they used to

but not any-

more

It serves us right to be alive

We move out across the water in our stupid bodies and blow out the
breakers one by one

Delivered

from our names

into some secret

home

from FliesFind it in the library

Copyright © 2011 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

My Father Full of Light

Tonight the moths are beating the shit out of themselves against the
screen door

It looks like smoke

So does the light

inside his rings, his

wristwatch

The blood swimming around inside his face

in lightning blotches beneath his skin

like the residue of beets

on a cutting board

also

emitted light

A blizzard of wings

*

He thinks God

is going to clean

everything up

Hands made from Light and Feathers, moving us around, dusting us off

Everything

settling back into the warm

colors of autumn

instead of getting

ground down

into glass

which, I get the feeling

diamond after

diamond

is what’s really

going to happen

*

I could have

whatever I wanted

once a year

Whatever you want

it’s on me

Coconut cream pies rotated slowly behind bright windows like the
cities of heaven

The register sang

Flies collected

on our water glasses

My father, for a moment, was full of light

Men came and went

I knew

our waiter was the son

of someone

from The End of the WestFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

The New Green

To wake up every morning in the pines in your bedroom and have to
shake off the green nightlights is a blessing

I want to burn down the forest

that’s been growing

all night

in my brain

I left a note in my brain in red Sharpie it says      Don’t forget the matches

Embers go flying up to the top branches

The house

gets brighter and

brighter

Then I call down the hallway to my dead brother

Then more lights

In my home in my brain

I’m at home

The pine trees are beautiful and made of green needles the pine

     trees are beautiful and made of green needles

I went to sleep

and when I woke up

I was covered in

pitch

Nothing really happens to you when you’re dreaming

Everyone alive is alive

everyone dead is

again

Through the new green

they come back

they can’t

come back

but they come back

The lights inside the pines

are my pillow

I strike the matches on my teeth

and light the needles

I strike the matches

I keep being

alive

I didn’t know that it would get easier but it does

The rain softly through the last of the branches is your voice

The lights are my pillow

My brother is my mattress

My mother turns off

the trees

and

tucks us in

from FliesFind it in the library

Copyright © 2011 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Wang Wei (excerpt)

*

You know

how we are going

to disappear

into the dirt forever

Or burn

into the sky

into oceans

Well, I love this about us

and I want to be able to do it

all by myself

It won’t be scary

or cold

Not like what they told us at all

If there are spiders

and there will be

spiders

they will not kill us

in our

New Cities

from The End of the WestFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

My Autopsy (excerpt)

There is a way

if we want

into everything

I’ll eat the chicken carbonara and you eat the veal, the olives, the small

     and glowing

     loaves of bread

I’ll eat the waiter, the waitress

floating through the candled dark in shiny black slacks

like water at night

The napkins, folded into paper boats, contain invisible Japanese poems

You eat the forks

all the knives, asleep and waiting

on the white tables

What do you love?

I love the way our teeth stay long after we’re gone, hanging on despite
worms or fire

I love our stomachs

turning over

the earth

*

There is a way

if we want

to stay, to leave

Both

My lungs are made out of smoke   ash   sunlight   air

Particles of skin

The invisible floating universe of kisses rising up in a sequined helix
of dust and cinnamon

Breathe in

Breathe out

I smoke

unfiltered Shepheard’s Hotel cigarettes

from a green box, with a dog on the cover, I smoke them

here, and I’ll smoke them

there

from The End of the WestFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Nervous System (excerpt)

*

When you look down

inside yourself

what is there?

You are a walking bag of surgical instruments

shining from the inside out

and that’s just

today

Tomorrow it could be different

When I think of the childhood inside me I think of sunlight dying on
a windowsill

The voices of my friends

in the sunlight

All of us running around

outside our

deaths

from The End of the WestFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

We Did Not Make Ourselves (excerpt)

*

I didn’t make my brain

but I’m helping

to finish it

Carefully stacking up everything I made next to everything I ruined

in broad daylight in bright

brainlight

This morning I killed a fly

and didn’t lie down

next to the body

as we’re supposed to

We’re supposed to

Soon I’m going to wake up

Dogs

Trees

Stars

There is only this world and this world

What a relief

created

over and over

from The End of the WestFind it in the library

Copyright © 2009 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Emily Dickinson to the Rescue (excerpt)

Heaven is everywhere

but there’s still

the world

The world is Cancer House Fires and Brain Death here in America

But I love the world

Emily Dickinson

to the rescue

I used to think we were bread

gentle work and water

We’re not

But we’re still beautiful

Killing each other as much as we can

beneath the

pines

The pines

that are somebody’s

masterpiece

from FliesFind it in the library

Copyright © 2011 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Above Love (excerpt)

From stem to stem

we can walk beneath the cherries

above the red foam

above love

and live

Their glass stems shake quietly in the dark

Glass skins

What will we do when we don’t have bodies anymore?

I want to hold you between my teeth

On the shore

we grow new skins

new glass

new skins

Between our teeth cherry blossoms

fall into the treeless

singing

from FliesFind it in the library

Copyright © 2011 Michael Dickman
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.