mayakovsky's revolver

I am like you and can’t sleep, though you
are maybe doing dishes or watching a movie, I paced back and
forth
the length of my bed, ate cereal, cried
over the heroics of a cooking show where a southerner
won the weeklong competition
with a pumpkin cupcake. I had forgotten how brave we are, how
dark
our lives can be, and in the dark how heavy
and full of smoke.
— 

-Matthew Dickman

i had forgotten how brave we are

Mayakovsky’s Revolver
by Matthew Dickman

I keep thinking about the way
blackberries will make the mouth
of an eight-year-old look like he’s a ghost
that’s been shot in the face. In the dark I can see
my older brother walking through the tall brush
of his brain. I can see him standing
in the lobby of the hotel,
alone, crying along with the ice machine.
Instead of the moon
I’ve been falling for the lunar light pouring out of a plastic shell
I’ve plugged into the bathroom wall. Online
someone is claiming to own Mayakovsky’s revolver
which they will sell for only fifty thousand dollars. Why didn’t I
think of that? Remove the socks from my dead brother’s feet
and trade them in for a small bit
of change, a ticket to a movie, something
with a receipt, proof I was busy living,
that I didn’t stay in all night weeping,
that I didn’t stay up
drawing a gun over and over
with a black marker, that I didn’t cut
out the best one, or stand
in front of the mirror, pulling the paper trigger until it tore away.

Sold on eBay

After Matthew Dickman

A set of porcelain plates. A fridge. A clock that ticks
backwards, possibly undoing time.
Which I can’t prove.
But sometimes my hands look younger after I touch it.
A mattress. A mango. A piece of toast
with the burnt face of Jesus: sad and sacred
and crumbling. A piano, never
used. Okay, used once,
in an act of desperation, in the hopes of being forgiven
by someone I didn’t mean to betray.
A bathing suit. A bathtub, half full of water.
A table, perfect condition,
aside from the crack down the middle
from my brother’s lovesick fist
the morning after he met God in the backseat
of a parked car. Kissed a girl who smelled like lemon
and faith in things to come. Bit his lip
so hard, she drew blood.
Bit his heart so hard,
he laughed all the way home.
An umbrella. A wooden chair
that once belonged to a famous painter,
before a certain wheat field,
where a certain heart bled out its transgressions,
at the feet of a helpless scarecrow.
A tennis racket. A camera,
and a roll of half-used film, containing a picture
that proves you loved me as much as
anyone could have.
And another that proves aliens exist.
A mirror I punched once when I was angry, but glued
back together. A sliver of reflection still
trapped in my knuckle.
A childhood home, complete with ghosts.
A volcano, complete with eruption. A feeling of confused
relief, complete with the understanding that
you don’t know how to move on, but
would still like to try.

I made a way so nothing would ever work out.
I made cereal.
I made a crook in my arm for your face.
I made a star out of apple seeds and two of your hairpins.
I made a mess out of the party.
I made four plus four and then I made you cry.
I made my bed.
I made a bed that would be impossible to sleep on.
I made this thing happen.
I made my body get bad and then I made nothing.
I made a box with a horse on it for my mom when I was twelve.
I made a bee die.
I made a slug die with salt and it was forever.
I made dinner out of all the things I’ve been embarrassed about.
I made myself eat it.
I made no progress with communion or cherry blossoms.
I made a sign out of the cross and meant it.
I made snow out of my brain.
I made lost and found.
I made lost.
I made you think you were crazy and also laundry was hanging.
I made a place where I could go forever.
I made longing out of a toothbrush.
I made a goodbye and a so long and a fuck off and a what are you doing.
—  Matthew Dickman
My Brother's Grave, Matthew Dickman

Like a city I’ve always hated, driving through but never stopping,
my foot on the gas, running all the lights,
wishing I were home. Hating even the children who live there
as if they had a choice. I imagine him
in his ten-million particles
of ash, tied up into a beautiful white bundle of lace, a silver bow
looped where his neck should be,
thrown into a washing machine, set on a delicate cycle
to spin forever under the dirt. The all of him
left, the vegetation of him, the no more thing
of him: his skateboard and mountain bike and beers and cigarettes
    and daughter
and mixtapes and loneliness, his legs and feet and arms and brain
    and kneecaps.
Outside the graveyard
there is still some part of him
buried in the mysticism of his DNA, smeared across a doorknob
or brushed along the jagged edge of his car keys. Two kids
from the high school nearby
will fuck each other on top of him
and I won’t know how to stop them. Someone
will throw an empty bottle of vodka over their shoulder
and he will have to catch it. 

Blue Sky, Matthew Dickman

I wonder if it matters that I can’t remember
her name, although we kissed on my front porch
in early August and by late August
had taken off our clothes in her backyard.
I wonder if the two of us knew
that I would grow up afraid of needles and the color white
of that she would fall from a window
before taking an exam on 1980s Feminism she had been studying
all semester long, in love with bell hooks
and a boy she met in her Shakespeare class. I wonder if it matters
that she might have jumped, that when I dream
about her I dream she is hanging in a closet. I wonder if it matters,
that she slipped or stood up,
all of a sudden as we like to say, and walked up to the window
and then stepped out,
all of a sudden, but for the hours of sitting
and the seconds of falling,
I wonder if it matters that I loved her when I was fifteen, that her
left breast had three freckles making a triangle
of the nipple, or that she wrote a letter on my back with her finger
so I could never read it
and have only ever guessed what she might have been
saying to me -
this blue sky, our blue sky, this green grass, our green grass,
this trembling ours. I wonder if I’m bad
for forgetting the letters of her name. And then I think
the world is like a crowded staircase
full of midtown commuters all pushing and pulling, each dropping
something important that they will not remember
until it’s too late. And then I think I’m an idiot for thinking
the world could be a story I tell myself
to make myself feel better. And then I remember this thing -
I am standing on the top of a building, a friend is opening a beer
     for me,
he says my name, and all of a sudden I’m wondering
if it matters that I am stepping up onto the flat head of a concrete
    gargoyle,
looking down at the parking lot stories below,
and now my friend is yelling my name, rapidly, with a question
    mark
after each time he says it, and I remember - blue sky, blue sky,
    green grass. 

And then I think the world is like a crowded staircase full of midtown commuters all pushing and pulling, each dropping something important that they will not remember until it’s too late. And then I think I’m an idiot for thinking the world could be a story I tell myself to make myself feel better. And then I remember this thing—I am standing at the top of a building, a friend is opening a beer for me, he says my name, and all of a sudden I’m wondering if it matters that I am stepping up onto the flat head of a concrete gargoyle, looking down at the parking lot stories below, and now my friend is yelling my name, rapidly, with a question mark after each time he says it, and I remember—blue sky, blue sky, green grass.
—  “Blue Sky,” Matthew Dickman
"In Heaven" by Matthew Dickman

No dog chained to a spike in a yard of dying
grass like the dogs
I grew up with, starving, overfed, punched in the face
by children, no children, no firecrackers
slipped down the long throats of bottles in the first days of
summer,
no sky exploding, no blood, no bones
because we were the bones, no more Lord
my God, or maps made of fire, a small blaze burning
right where I grew up, so I could,
if I wanted to, point to the flame that was 82nd Avenue,
no milk in the fridge, no more walking through the street
to the little store
that sold butterfly knives, no more knives, no more honey
now that all the sweetness is gone, though we were the sweetness,
though we needed something
for our tongues, no more cheap soap, no more
washing our mouths out
because Motherfucker and because Fuck Off
came swimming out of us like fish from the Pacific Ocean,
no hummingbirds, no Band-Aids, no scraped knees
with the dirt and rock from the neighborhood
because we were the dirt,
no young mothers smoking cigarettes on the porch
while the sky got pretty
before night came on, though they were prettier
and the sky turned against them. No punk rock, no prom,
no cheap high heels left in the rain
in a parking lot, no empty bottles of wine coolers
because we were the empty bottles, no throwing them against the
wall
behind the school because we were the glass
that was shattering. No more looking toward the west, no east, no
north
or south, just us standing here together, asking each other
if we remember anything, what we loved, what loved us, who
yelled our names first?

Blue Sky by Matthew Dickman

I wonder if it matters that I can’t remember
her name, although we kissed on my front porch in early
August and by late August had taken off
our clothes in her back yard. I wonder if the two of us
knew somewhere in a fingernail, a freckle,
that I would grow up afraid of needles and the color white
or that she would fall from a window
before taking the exam on 1980 Feminism she had been studying
all semester long, in love with bell hooks
and a boy she met in her Shakespeare class. I wonder if it matters
that she might have jumped, that when I dream
about her I dream she is hanging in a closet. I wonder if it matters,
even to the closet, that someone else was hanging there
and that she slipped or stood up,
all of a sudden as we like to say, and walked up to the window
and then stepped out
of the window, all of a sudden but for the hours of sitting
and the seconds of falling,
I wonder if it matters that I loved her when I was fifteen, that her
left breast had three freckles making a triangle
of the nipple, or that she wrote a letter on my back with her finger
so I could never read it
and have only ever guessed what she might have been
saying to me—
this blue sky, our blue sky, this green grass, our green grass,
this trembling ours. I wonder if I’m bad for not caring
or for forgetting or for only loving myself so long it’s become hard
to imagine the letters of her name. And then I think
the world is like a crowded staircase
full of midtown commuters all pushing and pulling, each dropping
something important that they will not remember
until it’s too late. And then I think I’m an idiot for thinking
the world could be a story I tell myself
to make myself feel better. And then I remember this thing—
I am standing on the top of a building, a friend is opening a beer for me,
he says my name, and all of a sudden I’m wondering
if it matters that I am stepping up onto the flat head of a concrete gargoyle,
looking down at the parking lot stories below,
and now my friend is yelling my name, rapidly, with a question mark
after each time he says it, and I remember—blue sky, blue sky, green grass.