Where We Live

from Boring Postcards U.S.A., Martin Parr, Phaidon Press 2004



Where We Live

By Michael Dickman


                     For John Guare




I used to live

in a mother now I live

in a sunflower


Blinded by the silverware


Blinded by the refrigerator


I sit on a sidewalk

in the sunflower and its yellow



The light of  the world

beads up on one perfect

green leaf


It scribbles its name on every living thing then erases it so what’s left is more of a whisper than a mother


Here it’s spring


Over and over and over again



I used to live

in a cloud now I live

in a crow


It’s tiny and crippled in there but I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark if   I need to


All the windows

in the crow are left open

and let the clouds in


Back in


They float past my bed and have nothing to say


Hello it’s nice to meet you!


From a telephone pole

tongues slide out singing

welcome home


Welcome home they sing



I used to live

in a tree now I live

in a king


He waves his arms in front of   him and endless migrations of   birds disappear into his coat


I like to sit up inside

his crown eating sandwiches

and watching tv


Hills shake in the distance when he shuffles his feet

Floods when he snaps his fingers


I bow inside his brow and the afternoon stretches out

Orders more sandwiches


And sells the slaves


and sets the slaves free


and sells the slaves




“Where We Live” appears in Poetry (December 2013).


Michael Dickman, a 2009 Hodder Fellow, is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts. Dickman was born and raised in the Lents neighborhood of Portland Oregon. He has received fellowships from the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas, the Fine Arts Work Center, and the Vermont Studio Center, and he won the 2008 Narrative Prize. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Field, Tin House, Narrative Magazine and others.