Matthew Dickman

Self-Portrait with a Balloon, Western Novel, and Duel

My brother floats like a balloon as we walk through the city,

he’s in love and I have to pull his pant cuff

to keep him near me.


Near me is a streetlight turned green.

Near me is a bus stop where a transvestite is sleeping.

Near me is the corner on Sixth and Lavaca.


Austin, Texas was once Something, Mexico

and two Mexican brothers walked

through the city while one of them began to float into the air.


I am becoming the dust-jacket of a pulp Western novel,

a shadow colored in,

how I am sitting in this portrait wearing a poncho & sombrero,


lighting a wet cigarillo in the rain.


Whoever said love lifts us up where we belong was a genius.


It does.


Whoever cried La Vida Loca before it was held down

and beaten into a meaningless song was a philosopher.


It is crazy.


The river is running through the city like a dog that has just torn

through the screen door, wild in the yard,


and I am holding a pistolero in my hand,

near the corner of  Eighth and Lavaca,

hoping that my brother will float back down before I have to draw

the gun from its holster, hoping that if it’s between me and the river


it will be me getting up in the morning.