The Cortland Review

Dorianne Laux
"Dog Poets" by Dorianne Laux.

Dorianne Laux
Five poems by Dorianne Laux.

This marks an author's first online publication Carl Adamshick
This marks an author's first online publication William Archila
Wes Benson
Roy Bentley
Michelle Bitting
Kim Bridgford
Stacey Lynn Brown
Grant Clauser
Michael Dickman
This marks an author's first online publication Matthew Dickman
This marks an author's first online publication Geri Digiorno
Cheryl Dumesnil
Molly Fisk
Jeannine Hall Gailey
Kate Lynn Hibbard
Major Jackson
Greg Kosmicki
Keetje Kuipers
Michael McGriff
This marks an author's first online publication Philip Memmer
This marks an author's first online publication Jude Nutter
John Repp
R. T. Smith
This marks an author's first online publication Brian Turner
Book Review
"Sister" by Nickole Brown—Book Review, by John Hoppenthaler.

Book Review
"Superman: The Chapbook" by Dorianne Laux—Book Review, by David Rigsbee.

Matthew Dickman

This marks an author's first online publication Matthew Dickman is the author of All-American Poem recipient of the 2008 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, the May Sarton poetry prize from the American Academy of Arts and Science, and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He lives and works in Portland, Oregon.

On Earth    

My little sister walks away
from the crash, the black ice, the crushed passenger
side, the sixteen-wheeler that destroyed
the car, and from the ditch on the side of the highway
some animal nearby, the trees and grass
where the worms are working slow and blind beneath
the ants in their single columns of grace like soldiers
before they're shipped out, before war makes them human
again and scatters them across the fields. On earth
my brother's cancer is cut out
of his forehead after a year of picking at it and me
always saying 'hey! Don't pick at your cancer!'
but joking because he can never be sick,
not if I want to stay on earth,
and my sister can never be torn in half, a piece of her beautiful
separating her torso from her legs, not
if I want to live, not if I want to walk across the Hawthorne
Bridge with the small city ahead of me, the windows
filled with light, the river running toward the wild
Pacific, the hydro-adventure North
still pulling at the blood of New Yorkers and New Englanders,
the logging gone and the Indians gone
but for casinos and fireworks and dream catchers,
my sister has to rise from the dead
steel and broken headlights, my brother has to get himself
down from the operating table if I'm going to
be able to watch the rainclouds come in like a family of hippos
from the warm waters of Africa  
and dry off in the dust, they have to be here
if I'm going to write a letter
to David or Dorianne, if I want to suffer
safely in the rain like a bad song
that took forty people in Los Angeles to write for one
teenager singing herself into the famine of fame.
On earth my mother talks to her breasts because they want to kill
and in the end she talks them out of it. She makes them behave
like two dogs or like children playing
too rough with the cat and the cat screaming, her tail almost
pulled off. She has to still be here
if I'm going live at all. On earth
I have a bed I can't wait to get into, the clean smell of white
sheets, letting my head fall
onto the soft pillow and worry and pull
the blanket over like a grave
and in the morning watch the cold winter light
blowing in through the window. Every night the dark
and every morning the light and you don't think Jesus walked
out of his cave, crawled out of his Subaru
and stood on the side of the road for the ambulance to come
and cover him in a white shroud? On Earth
I faint in the lobby of the multiplex, pee my pants, go into a
like someone talking in tongues, wrapped
in the flames of belief, my body held in the hands of strangers
above the old orange carpet
while on earth the popcorn is popping wildly and the licorice is
      bright red
beneath the glass counter
where the most beautiful girl in the world is standing
in her black stockings, her name tag
pinned tight, her name written on a piece of tape
that covers someone else's name. What does she think of me
there on the floor? She will never kiss me, never
lie in bed with the summer outside
and whisper my name, making it float
like a plastic bag in the wind, up into the limbs
of the poplar. On earth I cut my orange like athletes do, perfect
      half moons,
and peel the pulp, the skin that looks like
the surface of the moon, I put each one into my mouth
and let the sex of it burst into my throat,
my lungs like two black halves of a butterfly
caught in the net of my chest. On earth Dave is cut open
and put back together
and goes on loving his brothers and looking into the mirror,
and maybe the hair has not grown back
over the river the scar has made, and maybe he is unhappy
but on earth! He has to get up in the morning
if I'm going to listen to records in my room with the window open
and the door open and lie
in my boxers waiting for love to enter in her dirty feet
and sweaty hands. On earth Joe has a heart attack, his pack of
Cigarettes resting quietly near his books.
He rides his heart through the three acres of bypass and then leads
      it to water.
On earth survival is built out of sticks
or stones or slow like a mountain, beginning before there was
to survive, the gases of the big bang just settling, or it's built
like a skyscraper, by hand, some workmen falling,
and some safe on the scaffold, up above the earth, unwrapping a
they have been waiting all day to eat.



© 2009 The Cortland Review