Matthew Dickman

Roma

Last night my neighbor was looking a little enlightened,
you know, the way bodies do
after spending the afternoon having sex
on an old couch while responsible people are suffering
with their clothes on in cubicles and libraries.
He had that look vegetables get
in really nice grocery stores where the tomatoes aren't just red
they're goddamn red!
He was like that. Like a glowing, off-the-vine Roma
sitting in his living room picking pineapple off a Hawaiian pizza
and telling me about his father who was a real mother
fucker. I ask him if he still loved his dad, or if he loved him more
now that he is dead. Sure, he says, I love anything that's dead.
Someone's hand floats up onto the beach
while the body is still lost below the current, a vase of lilacs
turned brown, the black archipelago of mourners marching
up the hill. My neighbor is there to greet each of them
with a box of chocolates and a barbershop quartet in the background.
When my father died, he says opening a beer, he was no longer
my father. He was no longer a man. It's easy to love things
when they're powerless, like children and goldfish.
This is the way with enlightened people. They say things
that are so infuriatingly simple when the world is not.
So I put down my Pepsi and pull out the big card.
What about Hitler? I ask. You can't love Hitler!
My neighbor puts a piece of pineapple on his tongue like a sacrament,
sucks the juice out of it, chews it up, then turns
his head slow like a cloud and says I can love anybody I feel like loving.
And I say that's ridiculous.
And he says what's ridiculous is that you don't. And there he is again,
shining in the grocery store, pulling the bow off
the heart-shaped candies and putting one softly into his father's mouth.

Matthew Dickman

 Matthew  Dickman

Matthew Dickman is the author of All-American Poem (American Poetry Review/ Copper Canyon Press, 2008), the recipient of The Honickman First Book Prize, The May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kate Tufts Award from Claremont College, and the 2009 Oregon Book Award from Literary Arts of Oregon. His poems are forthcoming or have appeared in McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, The Believer, The London Review of Books, Narrative Magazine, and The New Yorker, among others.
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