I remember when the sky was all the rage, like last night and how it felt like a bundle of letters flung into the air over the apartment where you and I slept like two keys in someone's pocket, the same sky as this morning but now it's more like a sheet that's been lifted like rice over a wedding party. Jumbo jets are swimming through the clouds and you are driving to California with your son asleep in the back, every microcosm of his body is initialed with your name, with the sound and wet mouth of your skin. I'm getting ready to walk through this city for the tenth billion time, getting ready to be a person who is not like an empty building, who is not like an emergency kit, the swabs and needles, the antiseptic and Band-Aids, today I will be the way I always wanted to be, someone drinking coffee and being kind of knowing the difference between making love and putting on his shoes. The way I smile, with the dental dam of death clouding up my teeth is something you always knew about me, something you liked a little in the left part of your body which is the part that has water and trees, puddles of blood and planets of organs. I want to know just what kind of a person goes to sleep with one name and wakes up with another, my inner life has so many passports I don't think it belongs to any particular Nation, nor would it be saved if all out war were to appear over the hedges like a mother appearing in the middle of a Mall where her lost child has been watching a strange man do a trick with a quarter, a pin, and his thick hands. Whenever you go, I am sawed in half in front of an audience of one, before the two boxes of myself are wheeled back together and I get to stand up again, and bow, and walk away.
2 The Paris-American
Matthew Dickman is the poetry editor of Tin House and the author of All-American Poem (American Poetry Review/ Copper Canyon Press, 2008) and the recipient of the Honickman First Book Prize, the May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kate Tufts Award from Claremont College, the 2009 Oregon Book Award, and two fellowships from Literary Arts of Oregon. He has also received residencies and fellowships from The Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas; The Vermont Studio Center; The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown; and The Lannan Foundation. His poems have appeared in Tin House, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, and the New Yorker, among others. W.W. Norton & Co. will publish his second book in 2012. He lives and works in Portland, Oregon.