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About this poet

Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1975, Michael Dickman, his twin brother Matthew, and his younger sister were raised by their mother in the neighborhood of Lents. He received his MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dickman's first collection, The End of the West, was published in 2009 by Copper Canyon Press. He is also the author of Green Migraine (Copper Canyon Press, 2015) and the coauthor, with his brother, of 50 American Plays (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). His second collection of poetry, Flies (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), received the 2010 James Laughlin Award.

His many grants, fellowships, and residencies include honors from organizations such as the Michener Center for Writers, the Vermont Studio Center, the Fine Arts Work Center, and the Lannan Foundation. He was awarded the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University for 2009-2010.

In addition to writing, Dickman appeared in the 2002 film Minority Report with his twin brother, worked for years as a cook, and has recently been active in the Writers in the Schools program. He lives in Portland, Oregon.


Green Migraine (Copper Canyon Press, 2015)
50 American Plays (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)
Flies (Copper Canyon Press, 2011)
The End of the West (Copper Canyon Press, 2009)

Killing Flies

Michael Dickman

I sit down for dinner
with my dead brother

This is the last dream I ever want to have

Passing the forks 
around the table, passing 
the knives

There's nothing to worry about

One thing I want to know is who's in the kitchen right now if it isn't me

It isn't me

The kitchen is full of flies, flies are doing all the work

They light on the edge
of the roasted chicken
The bone china

That's what they do



I will look 
more and more like him
until I'm older
than he is

Then he'll look more like me

if I was 

The flies need to be killed as soon as we're done eating this delicious meal they made

They serve us anything we want 
in toxic green tuxedos

shit wings

My brother and I wipe our mouths
scrape our chairs back from the table
and stand up

These are the last things we'll do together:

Eat dinner

Kill flies


You have to lie down
next to the bodies, shining 
all in a row
like black sequins
stitching up 
the kitchen floor

It's hard to do but you have to do it

Quietly lay down 
and not sleep

We were killing them with butcher knives but moved on to spatulas to save time and energy

Sticking their eyes 
onto our earlobes and wrists
like Egyptian

My brother and I work hard all night

He is my emergency exit

I am  

dinner date

Copyright © 2011 by Michael Dickman. Reprinted from Flies with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Copyright © 2011 by Michael Dickman. Reprinted from Flies with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Michael Dickman

Michael Dickman

Poet Michael Dickman's second collection of poetry, Flies, received the 2010 James Laughlin Award

by this poet

First I get a father
from some city
of fathers

One with a neck


And with all the tiny bird bones in my fingers carefully tip his chin back into the light like love
     so I can see
     so I can smell

I tell a dirty joke, then drag the steel across the universe

There is a way
if we want
into everything

I'll eat the chicken carbonara and you eat the veal, the olives, the small and glowing
   loaves of bread

I'll eat the waiter, the waitress
floating through the candled dark in shiny black slacks
like water at night

The napkins, folded into paper
My mother was led into the world
by her teeth

like a bull
into the 

She only ever wanted to be a mother her whole life and nothing else, not even a human being!

One body turned into 
another body

Pulled like that
by the golden voices of children

A bull 
out of hell