Matthew Dickman


When money will have nothing to do with me,
when the only voice I hear is my own
and all my books are having a great laugh at my expense—
especially Lowell
who doesn’t think I’m a man at all—
I go to the café and sit among my amigos.
The woman whose left arm has blossomed into skulls and roses is my sister.
The man in the business suit, wrapped like a muzzle around his body,
is talking on the phone with a client. The client is my brother.
The man is my confidant.
At any moment California will fall into the Pacific
and this congregation of ours will rise up
and walk across the Barnes & Noble parking lot
toward those great breaking waves.
We will be together
in car accidents, train wrecks,
in a hot bath clouding up with our own blood
while the men and women we love read quietly in the other room,
in emergency landings,
with twelve year olds carrying their fathers’ pistols to class,
we will look and see each other.
There are days I feel as though someone has written my name on a stone
and thrown it over the side of a cliff.
Sometimes I pour milk into my coffee
and I look at the paper and know
what has pulled me from bed;
it has hidden in every part of my body,
waited for me in hotels like a pillow mint,
filled my ears with music,
rubbed against me at parties,
it’s been an infant and it’s been an e-mail.
We bomb a mosque. They mutilate a body.
When a man from Indiana keeps the fingernails of the waitresses he kills,
and on the facing page balloons float softly around the words
g r a n d o p e n i n g,
I feel like a dog that is sniffing the ass of another dog,
who in turn wishes that she was tied back up in the yard.
I want to be with everyone here,
with their lattes and mochas,
while the water rises
and the top of the Golden Gate bridge is blinking in the surf,
when the aliens land and eat us,
as soldiers from another country drag us by the hair
from our yards,
while the valley is flooded and all its talk about vastness and god has drowned,
I want to know their names, mis amigos,
their hands reaching out toward mine,
when the flights are rerouted
away from our loved ones, lets all lift a glass or a child into the air,
as we watch the final cruelty performed simultaneously
with the last kindness.

Matthew Dickman
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Matthew Dickman
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse