Grips Are Fleeting Things

1 You are sour. We sit soaking in the school fire sprinklers listening to the music playing in our heads. We almost fuck. But you leave and I spend the rest of my life wondering. 2 Your hair is black like oxidized, polished iron. Blades curved deadly across crown. Brave fingers pull it back in…

Postcard to Hugo in Port Townsend

You live in a time when a poet can say This is my soul, the salmon rolling in the strait and salt air loaded with cream. Can say take others by the hand: we are called people. 2016? No way. Not your fish. Not your air. Nobody’s just people. I want a guide but the…

Sewing Lesson

In Monopoly I would play the thimble, she the top hat. Take me for all I have. Take me to jail. In the world of the blind, one stitch is impossible. Every time a butterfly net is sewn an angel gets trapped, suffocates in the netting, drops to the stones, festers. Mark my words with…

Humans Taken Hostage in Dog Park

A pack is following in a circle, a hierarchy beginning with scent. I am on a park bench. A humane society is one. A human society is another that remembers pairs of startled irises reflected in high beams. When we approach sleep, we draw a perfect circle, a string tied from our bodies to the…

The Hallway Of Burst Safeguards

The Pacific receives the river. Here the plume slips into bluer water. It splinters the sand. A feather floats, a child’s spoon washes in. Upstream where sagebrush edges riverbanks cradling Hanford’s gray halls, birds forage through grass broken as straw. Nancy Dickeman‘s poems and essays are forthcoming or have appeared in Post Road 32, Poetry…

To Love

When the priests, in their beads and capes stitched from feral hides, led me under the New England pines, they whittled the tip of a sawn limb         to gently press up through ribs, and the ventricular hollow, and on that spit, their meaty hands dipped me in the river, and as promised, I felt nothing…

Rambo’s Bohemia

And so I left, my fists tearing new pockets in a coat made of bullet holes. The sweaty blue sky ordered me to dream and I asked how high! Appleseed, John J. In ripped fatigues I scattered handfuls of blood no matter where I tried to go. Homeless most nights, I watched my stars slide…

Chicken Pluckers

They huddled and breathed, scratched and clucked, jerked and leaned, stacked on long tables waiting three cages high, wing to wing, ten to a locker white brown black yellow all in it together equal opportunity workplace only the sons wished they could be anywhere but here and on this subject the birds had to agree…

Sitting with Iris

Charmed one, flower of summer, everyone’s love child—wearied of being passed arm to arm, she comes to my lap on the bench outside the door where late June sun is spreading shadows around the goldfish pond. I whisper to her the litany of what’s before us: a junco hopping in Indian plum dragonfly darting for…

Was a Time

when I’d decided to furnish a room with marigold walls, a time when I caught the daily catamaran and hunkered starboard side to read arctic adventures. It was a good time. It was a moment, really, not expansive as it was happening but now fills me with slow maple syrup sappy sticky thinking. It was…