cover image Flies


Michael Dickman, Copper Canyon, $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-55659-377-2

Few poetry debuts found more attention than Dickman's The End of the West: the difficult working-class childhood he shared with his twin brother, Matthew (also a poet), and the twins' memorable early acting careers prompted a long profile in the New Yorker. Fortunately, the verse itself did measure up: the nightmarish intensities of his terse and fractured lines, their zigzags between religious transcendence and confessional shame, won Dickman a great deal of admiration. This second collection may not surprise, but it won't disappoint. Scarily clipped or deliberately awkward to reflect the extremes he feels, Dickman looks into the depths of his psyche, remembering his dead older brother, other dead relatives, and the omnipresent fact of death: "At the end of one of the billion light years of loneliness// I stuff my mom and dad into a little red wagon and drag them out into the ocean// Waves the color of their eyelids." The poems at their best might frighten their author, and their reader too: "You're going to die anyway and not just because it's natural but because they want you to," Dickman exclaims: no wonder he says, elsewhere, "I want to burn down the forest/ that's been growing/ all night/ in my brain." (May)