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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

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.

Published in Michael Dickman Poems

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.