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Monday, November 21, 2011


by Paul Dickey

I have a stick I bought on eBay 

from a flogging tree 

once in a now closed museum.

I have a poem.

I have a quotation from Martin Luther King.
I have a true story.
But they say poets anymore 

shouldn’t break America’s heart.

I heard Wisconsin election results just came in.
I heard teachers not teaching,

just sitting on a bench.
I heard teachers not teaching 

outside the capitol.

I heard a door close behind a man who lost his job.

I heard voices in victory from the other room.

I heard a governor say –

but don’t you dare break America’s heart.

I see fire in the Bastrop sky 

where there had been blue.
I see the governor calls for volunteers 

to bring their own equipment
the United States of People
it seems no longer can afford.

I see fish dying on a Vermont street.

I see an old man die in Ohio who didn’t need.

I see a true story about a dream.

I see a poem there in front of you.
 To build again, 

we have to break America’s heart.

Paul Dickey’s first full length poetry manuscript They Say This is How Death Came Into the World was published by Mayapple Press in January, 2011 and was nominated by the press for the 2011 National Book Award in Poetry.  His poetry has appeared recently in Verse Daily, Rattle, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, Mid-American Review, Midwest Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review and online at Linebreak.  A poetry chapbook What Wisconsin Took was published by The Parallel Press in May, 2006.