you are in the diode archives v5n3



Day 8

            software release,
which means
                        it’s time
to add the last minute

            frantic code

the execs swore
            up and down
            last week
they wouldn’t want
            until next month.



On his quiet, evening drive home, the dark, steamy suburbs rose from the manholes and extinguished the city. A sliver of a moon grinned at him in the rear view mirror. The man had emptied his life into the job today like when arriving home, his wife will pour him his glass of wine. She will greet him at the door as if she has just seen—not the Ghost in the Machine—but whatever it was she saw yesterday and all the days before that. At the dinner table, not speaking anymore and especially not to him, their son’s hungry eyes may well read a book of frightful and sullen 19th century Russian fiction. The chicken teriyaki tells a bad joke, without the taste to warn him that his life too is surely done. He cannot tell his wife even where he went for lunch.  His colleagues had scoffed at the snuff film’s very scene that held him too intimately for the professed casual affair.  Entirely exposed, he said to himself that if this were all meant to be, it would be called Design. Hume would have had no need for Darwin. God would be God and we all would be pocket-protected, student engineers.  The stars would punch out the cardboard sky into a pattern like they used to do. His son’s eyes would not be prisoners of 17th century time when skyscrapers were mere candles on Descartes’ writing desk only to be snuffed out after a night of philosophical study. 


Lazarus, Visiting Kansas

                      “So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me
                      and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and
                      cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”
                                                                             Luke 16:24

When she runs out of people to visit,
she visits the headstones. There is family
all along I-70 from Salina to Hays –
Uncle Rudy with his shirt off in the fields
plowing on his John Deere. That day
in 1966, Aunt Betty wouldn’t stop
to give him a drink of water for the way
he looked. He didn’t appear a good
Christian man and certainly no brother
of hers. Today she would donate a thousand
bucks to hell to give him a drink of water,
make him the richest man in the family
no longer alive. Her back stooped, she pours
water as if out of her eyes, to fill the vase
and keep alive the goldenrod and tansy
she clipped by the roadside. And off she goes
to visit Aunt Ruth, not knowing anymore
whether the people are here or they’re gone.


The Awards Ceremony

I was a cloud of no particular consciousness. Champaign glasses tinkled like Christmas bells. All the faces were huge and austere. A political expert from India, a very distinguished black man from television, and a woman of unquestioned scholarship and horn-rimmed glasses expressed a sense of humor I did not understand. They spoke quite passionately and were most intimidating.  They spoke directly to me or so I thought, but they seemed not to expect me to answer. They praised me in a language that I could not understand either and now sounded distasteful.  I knew they all were very famous and now I too had become so.  After they presented me with the award and a big check, they introduced me to the master songwriter of whom I had been a fan for fifty years.  He closed the event with a song that he did not write, the song with which they always close the event. He said he liked my book, but anything I could say to him would have seemed pointless.  He asked me if I would like to go with him to the recording studio.  There he sang a song of bottomless darkness in my own words. He said we had a #1 hit and he had achieved his standard sense of passion and dignity with it.  His eyes twinkled like a glass of bubbly.  


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. His poetry and fiction have appeared recently or is forthcoming in Rattle, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, the Potomac Review, Crab Orchard Review and online at Linebreak, among other online and print publications.  A poetry chapbook, What Wisconsin Took, was published by The Parallel Press in May, 2006.   Biographical information and notes on previous publishing activity can be found at http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/NCW/dickey.htm.