Day #3: Matthew Dickman is not only good for writing heartbreakingly wonderful poems about chocolates made by these here typing hands, he is also the one to turn to, to his beautiful little yellow book, when the one you love is tucked into a tiny little bunk bed in a tiny little tour bus speeding from Paris to Portugal and you miss his sweet waist more than you’ve ever missed anything in this world. That’s not me, not tonight anyway, but it is all too often, and when it is have I read entire long Dickman poems out loud to make the house a little livelier? Sure.
Nights like that, you open up “All-American Poem,” and read anything, really, but I’d especially like you to read—really I’d beg you to read—this one:
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, the bus stop, at basketball games
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
even though she is in love
with the skinny kid who sold 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 fingers 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
and praise the holiness of smelliness.
I am going to stop 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 is a music to it, I hear it.
Johnny Rotten, 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 known, loved him.
In the Midwest, fields of corn are in love
with a scarecrow, his potato-sack head
and straw body, hanging out among the dog-eared stalks
like a farm-Christ full of love.
Turning on the radio I hear
how AM loves FM the way my mother loved Elvis
whose hips all young girls loved, sitting around the television
in a poodle skirt and bobby socks.
He LOVED ME TENDER so much
that I was born after a long night of Black-Russians
and Canasta while “Jailhouse Rock” rocked.
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.
In High school I once cruised
a MacDonald’s drive-thru butt-naked
on a dare from a beautiful Sophomore,
only to be swallowed up by a grief
born from super-size or no super-size.
Years later I met a woman
named Heavy Metal Goddess
at a party where she brought her husband,
leading him through the dance floor by a leash,
while in Texas cockroaches love with such abandon
that they wear their skeletons on the outside.
Once a baby lizard loved me so completely,
he moved into my apartment and died of hunger.
No one loves war,
but 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.