Paul Dickey's They Say This is How Death Came into the World was published by
Mayapple Press in January, 2011 and has been nominated by the publisher for
the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. His poetry has appeared recently in
Verse Daily, Rattle, Sentence, Mid-American Review, Southern Poetry Review, Crab
Orchard Review
and Linebreak, among other online and print venues. A chapbook,
What Wisconsin Took
, was published by The Parallel Press in May, 2006. Dickey's
poetry has been anthologized in An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel
Editions, 2009) and Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry (Backwaters Press,
2007). Dickey has a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington,
in the History and Philosophy of Science and teaches philosophy in Omaha, NE.
He has written several one-act plays and one full-length play, The Good News
According to St. Dude
. Biographical information and more can be found here.

How to Decorate a Closet

First throw out all your good clothes
that allow yourself to be seen in public,
and the shopping bags that could
be tied to objects of marketable value.
Folded in stacks, they lean against
the vacuum, like something is still there.
Give away what someone accidentally
may find. You require space.

Express style largely — as in a ball room,
as though this space affords ball rooms:
golden, flowing curtains, Steinways,
murals, white furniture, plush carpets.
Fall asleep here, have dreams
you will not allow yourself to wake from.
Allow yourself to remember, or wonder
if you could have made other choices.

Find an art that will satisfy
the most rebellious spirit, one not
to share with spouses or murderers.
Let it contain everything you can't
or won't explain even to close walls.
This is where amateurs like you and I
hang our masterpiece. Shut the door
tightly. You never will be alone.

Love Doesn't Work Here Anymore

Love doesn't work here anymore, she got
told to clear out her desk so pronto and
her pink slip shoved up her you know what
before stuff happens. We don't understand.
We never got a chance to tell her how we felt,
never got a chance to buy her those drinks,
say goodbye, say that's how cards get dealt,
walk her salty dog. Management thinks

they are God and hired her in the first
place. Maybe she was not meant off the shelf
to get a pension, benefits — or at the worst
to be given a vacation day off from herself.
At home things too are broken and unfixable —
from doorknobs to bedposts — but only
since love doesn't work here anymore, we all
gather at her desk and together are lonely.

On the State Line

Whiskey asses hang half off the bar stool.
Belt buckles are brighter than wits.
Moons leer all over the angels' tits.
The fields were wet when he was in school.

Filipino girls blur and fade on his forearm,
strip bills from a frayed wallet. In dry dock,
battleships rust. Not lonely now, he'll knock
up opportunity, drive home to father's farm.

How They Once Were

Nothing reminds an old man how
days once were, as do melon delicious
girls, poolside — only a few inches
here and there shy of nakedness.
Only now, they undress him:
what right does he have to stare?
He acknowledges all rights have been
stripped. Boys in the locker room,
for whom the girls might consider
giving up their last few inches,
seasoned to taste, speak of them,
as if the buffet were open all night.

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