Tonight I attended a poetry reading by Matthew Dickman. It was completely ruling. I’m too tired to produce a coherent introduction, but I can say that his poetry is hilarious and dark and kind and very weird, and that he has wavy bangs cut slantily, and that his much-acclaimed first book is All American Poem. I can’t over-emphasize how much I like his work. Here are a few of the poems he read tonight:
Chick Corea Is Alive and Well!
more than a New Year’s resolution of yogurt and yoga,
we need the opportunity to dance
with really exquisite strangers. A slow dance
between the couch and dinning room table, at the end
of the party, while the person we love has gone
to bring the car around
because it’s begun to rain and would break their heart
if any part of us got wet. A slow dance
to bring the evening home, to knock it out of the park. Two people
rocking back and forth like a buoy. Nothing extravagant.
A little music. An empty bottle of whiskey.
It’s a little like cheating. Your head resting
on his shoulder, your breath moving up his neck.
Your hands along her spine. Her hips
unfolding like a cotton napkin
and you begin to think about how all the stars in the sky
are dead. The my body
is talking to your body slow dance. The Unchained Melody,
Stairway to Heaven, power-cord slow dance. All my life
I’ve made mistakes. Small
and cruel. I made my plans.
I never arrived. I ate my food. I drank my wine.
The slow dance doesn’t care. It’s all kindness like children
before they turn four. Like being held in the arms
of my brother. The slow dance of siblings.
Two men in the middle of the room. When I dance with him,
one of my great loves, he is absolutely human,
and when he turns to dip me
or I step on his foot because we are both leading,
I know that one of us will die first and the other will suffer.
The slow dance of what’s to come
and the slow dance of insomnia
pouring across the floor like bath water.
When the woman I’m sleeping with
stands naked in the bathroom,
brushing her teeth, the slow dance of ritual is being spit
into the sink. There is no one to save us
because there is no need to be saved.
I’ve hurt you. I’ve loved you. I’ve mowed
the front yard. When the stranger wearing a sheer white dress
covered in a million beads
comes toward me like an over-sexed chandelier suddenly come to life,
I take her hand in mine. I spin her out
and bring her in. This is the almond grove
in the dark slow dance.
It is what we should be doing right now. Scrapping
for joy. The haiku and honey. The orange and orangutang slow dance.
Last night my neighbor was looking a little enlightened, you know, the way bodies do after spending the afternoon having sex on an old couch while responsible people are suffering with their clothes on in cubicles and libraries. He had that look vegetables get in really nice grocery stores where the tomatoes aren't just red they're goddamn red! He was like that. Like a glowing, off-the-vine Roma sitting in his living room picking pineapple off a Hawaiian pizza and telling me about his father who was a real mother fucker. I ask him if he still loved his dad, or if he loved him more now that he is dead. Sure, he says, I love anything that's dead. Someone's hand floats up onto the beach while the body is still lost below the current, a vase of lilacs turned brown, the black archipelago of mourners marching up the hill. My neighbor is there to greet each of them with a box of chocolates and a barbershop quartet in the background. When my father died, he says opening a beer, he was no longer my father. He was no longer a man. It's easy to love things when they're powerless, like children and goldfish. This is the way with enlightened people. They say things that are so infuriatingly simple when the world is not. So I put down my Pepsi and pull out the big card. What about Hitler? I ask. You can't love Hitler! My neighbor puts a piece of pineapple on his tongue like a sacrament, sucks the juice out of it, chews it up, then turns his head slow like a cloud and says I can love anybody I feel like loving. And I say that's ridiculous. And he says what's ridiculous is that you don't. And there he is again, shining in the grocery store, pulling the bow off the heart-shaped candies and putting one softly into his father's mouth.