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Eric Wayne Dickey


Eric Wayne Dickey is a musician, teacher, student, translator, writer, and mostly a poet. His poems have appeared in journals such as West Wind Review and International Poetry Review. He is a co-editor of To Topos: Poetry International. His honors include a 1999 John Anson Kittredge grant for individual artists, an honorable mention in the 2005 Blue Collar Review Working People's Poetry contest and more recently, a 2006 Oregon State Poetry Association Poet's Choice award. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon USA with his wife and two children and works as a grant writer.






1.  Inferno

Frost was on my breath when I hauled in wood
from the shed ó logs once chopped into a pile
shaped like some forgotten red butte.  I stood

outside in the weather for a long while
and took in the quiet, foggy morning.
I went back to rekindle my mild fire.

A brown recluse shifted, ready to spring
from an old scrap of oak I angled through
the iron doors onto the coals.   Guarding

its silken sack from the flames, it grew
frantic.  Beyond hope, the fire fried it:
eight legs like fuses, sizzle, pop, it flew

with a rush up the chimney as spirit. 
I closed the doors and turned up the dampers
then grabbed my coffee cup to refill it.

2.  Purgatory

Water sound changes as the tub fills up,
from that shallow slap against the cold tile
to that echo in the throat, the low thud.

This is when the demons came through the stile,
told that Texas woman, save your children,
tuck them to bed, sing to them for a while.

We looked in vain for ways to comprehend.
For weeks, the news showed their family pictures.
Should she be boiled in blood to help us mend?

We are all just fish.  Everything quivers
in the current.  Ripples on the surface
are marked like a target. In the center,

a hook and line from nowhere seduce
our own doubt.  I step into the bathtub,
lean back, close my eyes, my muscles go loose.

3.  Paradise

This time I am not in my alone dream
where the marbled earth is only meadow,
the one where I see the very first tree

sprout through the tall weeds swaying to and fro.
Itís a waking dream:  The sun, high.  Tennis
shoes, t-shirt, blue jeans.  Iím going to mow

the lawn.  I hear Jenny clatter dishes;
humming that Nina Simone tune she loves,
as the spigot in the kitchen hisses.

I hear birds flutteringóa flight of doves,
how their wings help to keep the coals aflare.
I slide my fingers into grass-stained gloves,

pull the cord just once, and follow the square
pattern; mowing over rotten apples,
releasing a scent that teases the air.



Do You Hear the Whale Fins?

after Osip Mandelshtam


This spruce forest, fostered by loggers,

the Pacific in earshot, in the resounding earth

they ate their lunches. Did they hear the whale fins

slap the clouds?


Itís easy to say they were idiots,

high on their chainsaws,

the cold power of machinery

breaking morning frost and forest.


Spruce trees, fleeting trees

gave them breath while they worked.

Gas fumes and fresh air

were water jugs brimming over.


This was all green and humming,

long before lips whispered words,

before drinking water and lunch

were theirs and his, yours or mine.


Six trees left, stand and sing

in your chamber of light.

Donít let the whale and the logger

hear the forest say I forgive.




for James


The grip of talons steals my breath,

but I keep signing my own timesheet.

The flapping wings, the touch of air,

the change in elevation

is like swimming to the top

of the Eiffel Tower in one breaststroke.


But that doesn't scare me;

it's just a tourist experience,

a carnival ride. Fresh.

Still, I wait for the night bus to carry me

home from work through the city so I can gawk

at the skyscapers lit up like cacti.


From one long held breath, I want

your name to be my last word, brother.









copyright © Eric Wayne Dickey