Matthew Dickman


We fall in love at weddings and auctions, over glasses

of wine in Italian restaurants

where plastic grapes hang on the lattice, our bodies throb

in the checkout line, bookstores, the bus stop,

and we can’t keep our hands off each other

until we can–

so we turn to rubber masks and handcuffs, falling in love again.

We go to movies and sit in the air conditioned dark

with strangers who are in love

with heroes like Peter Parker

who loves a girl he can’t have

because he loves saving the world in red and blue tights

more than he would love to have her ankles wrapped around

his waist or his tongue between her legs.

While we watch films

in which famous people play famous people

who experience pain,

the boy who sold us popcorn loves the girl

who sold us our tickets

and stares at the runs in her stockings every night,

even though she is in love

with the skinny kid who sells her cigarettes at the 7-11

and if the world had any compassion

it would let the two of them pass a Marlboro Light

back and forth

until their finger’s eventually touched, their mouths sucking

and blowing. If the world knew how

the light bulb loved the socket

then we would all be better off. We could all dive head first

into the sticky parts. We could make sweat

a religion. We could light a candle

and praise the holiness of smelliness. Imagine standing

beneath the gothic archways of feet,

the gilded bowls of armpits. Who doesn’t want to kneel down

and pray before the alter of the mouth?

For my part  I am going to stop right here,

on this dark night,

on this country road,

where country songs come from, and kiss her, this woman,

below the trees,

which are below the stars,

which are below desire.

There’s a music to it. I can hear it.

Johnny Cash, Biggie Smalls, Johan Sebastian Bach, I don’t care

what they say. I loved you

the way my mouth loves teeth,

the way a boy I know would risk it all for a purple dinosaur,

who, truth be told, loved him.

There is no accounting for it.

In fact there are no accountants

balancing the books of love, measuring

the heart’s distance and speed.

In the Midwest, for instance,

there are fields of corn madly in love with a scarecrow,

his potato-sack head

and straw body, standing among the dog-eared stalks,

his arms stretched out like a farm-Christ

full of love. Turning on the radio

I know how much AM loves FM. It’s the same way

my mother loved Elvis

whose hips all young girls love, sitting around the television

in poodle skirts and bobby socks,

watching him move across the screen like something

even sex dreamed of having.

He loved me tender for so many years

that I was born after a long night of Black Russians and Canasta

while Jail House Rock rocked.

I love the way my screen door, if it isn’t latched shut,

will fling itself open to the wind,

how the clouds above me look like animals covered in milk.

And I’m not the only one.

Stamps love envelopes. The licking proves it.

Just look at my dog

who obviously loves himself with an intensity

no human being could sustain, though you can’t say we don’t try.

The S&M goddess

who brings her husband to the mall,

dressed in a leather jumper, leading him through the food-court

by a leash. The baker who scores

his wife’s name into the thin skin of the pumpernickel

before peeling it into the oven.

Once a baby lizard loved me so completely

he moved into my apartment and died of hunger.

I was living there with a girl who loved to say the word

shuttlecock. She would call

me at work and whisper shuttlecock

into my ear which loved it! The blastoff

of the first word sending the penis into space.

Not that I ever imagined

my cock being a spaceship,

though sometimes men are like astronauts, orbiting

the hot planets of women,

amazed that they have traveled so far, wanting

to land, wanting to document the first walk,

the first moan,

but never truly understanding what

has brought them there. Love in an elevator.

Love in the backseat of your parent’s Chevette.

Love going to college, cutting her hair, reading Plath and sleeping

with other girls.

Sometimes love is lying across the bed

but it might not be yours.

And sometimes it travels into a hostile territory

where it’s hardly recognizable

but there all the same.

I know a man who loves tanks so much

he wishes he had one

to pick up the groceries, drive

his wife to work, drop his daughter off

at school with her Little Mermaid

lunch box, a note

hidden inside, next to the apple, folded

with a love that can be translated into any language: I hope

you do not suffer.