Two Poems by Steve Dickison


two from Wear You to the Ball



entered out of sun spectrum to entubed sight

“the fashion-plates need to get off at Powell Street”

me I’m staying on this train not so far as

its terminus but to where the ball of sun its

display comes laced with particulate matter

off ocean’s englobing water and sound system

why humans’d even try to approximate

to something called music unless it’s to fall in

as volunteers for the birds on vacation

who go out not so unlike a candle does

not conspicuously burning at both ends

more vacancies in the aviary lately

pouring back a black tea laced with white milk

keeping watch over the phenomenal exhibits

I don’t know if there are any words to this

“where do all the little birdies go” number

we should ask our representative of the verse

if anyone can reach that supposed person’s

words the wick inside the candle of the melody



“we have a caller on the line pushed up against it”

talking out of an internal polylogue

a local call, very local, placed inside me

one can hardly bear to lift your swift speech

and if “I had in mind to see it as a picture”

I had to erase back in some of what got said

the wiring inside me was such that I’d bent

over backward in anticipation of what

can’t ever be satisfied getting its ashes hauled

down to the riverbank, when we’re not even sure

which direction the river is from where we are

planted in this overgrown village, village life

that cannot quite recommend itself enough

pouring in from all quarters in the language

where ashes can’t be delivered they sound like

the word for hashish   “black specks drift aimlessly”

nobody’s sleep having fogged over the canvas

even when they’re words the sounds remain sounds

can that sentence you spoke afford a question mark




Steve Dickison is the director of The Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University, where he curates an extensive public reading series and directs a collection of circa 3,000 original recordings of poets and writers (1954-present). He is editor and publisher of the poetry press Listening Chamber, and with David Meltzer co-edits SHUFFLE BOIL, an occasional music magazine with poet, artist and musician contributors. He organized the exhibition POETRY AND ITS ARTS: BAY AREA INTERACTIONS 1954-2004 at the California Historical Society in 2005, and also the book exhibition RECENT VISITORS: POETS AND PUBLISHERS ON THE BOLINAS SCENE IN THE SEVENTIES. DISPOSED, a book of poetry, was published by the Post-Apollo Press in 2007. WEAR YOU TO THE BALL, a live poetry-sound collaboration with composer Bill Dietz, was performed in May 2009 in London and Berlin. Author photo by Tim Peterson (Trace).

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