michael dickman | we did not make ourselves

19 09 2008

Poetry Dispatch No.252 | September 19, 2008


Michael Dickman

We did not make ourselves is one thing
I keep singing into my hands
while falling

for just a second

before I have to get up and turn on all the lights in the house, one after the
other, like opening an Advent calendar

My brain opening
the chemical miracles in my brain
switching on

I can hear

dogs barking
some trees
last stars

You think you’ll be missed
it won’t last long
I promise

I’m not dead but I am
standing very still
in the back yard
staring up at the maple
thirty years ago
a tiny kid waiting on the ground
alone in heaven
in the world
in white sneakers

I’m having a good time humming along to everything I can still remember
back there

How we’re born

Made to look up at everything we didn’t make

We didn’t
make grass, mosquitoes
or breast cancer

We didn’t make yellow jackets
or sunlight


I didn’t make my brain
but I’m helping
to finish it

Carefully stacking up everything I made next to everything I ruined in broad
daylight in bright

This morning I killed a fly
and didn’t lie down
next to the body like we’re supposed to

We’re supposed to

Soon I’m going to wake up


There is only this world and this world

What a relief

over and over

from THE NEW YORKER, September 1, 2008



2 responses

2 01 2010
maggie stiffier

Michael you are a very good potry write i like them all keep up the good
mihael . am happy for you.

4 08 2011

We Did Not Make Ourselves is one of FAVORITE poems. Ever read Christian Wiman? Check out his book Every Riven Thing, and his poem Elsewhere at poetry foundation. Good stuff.

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