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Red Migraine

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The redbreast kills
and kills itself against
the window

Sooner or later the blood in the breast will break the window into hundreds of pieces you can swallow whole

Keep swallowing

The redbreast
loves you and wants you
to remember the love

So it makes you puke into the toilet blind

I was blinded by love

And drowned
in an empty bathtub
spitting up birdshit

Covered in red feathers

Sometimes the redbreast likes anting with lit cigarettes safety pins paper cuts God that feels good

It wraps everything
in pretty pink gauze the color
of fake sunset

Look it is a pink soul!

It wants to get naked and it wants it to hurt

Red teeth red toes
Open mouths

Who keeps pressing
my head into the sidewalk
inside the bathroom

Who keeps the lights on the lights stay on

Who dissolves on my tongue

Who flies from my finger

The redbreast sits inside
behind your left eye
behind your right and cleans
its babies with
its beak

Scrubs its babies clean

Shakes its tail feathers to scour the floor behind your forehead and scours the floor red

My brain is a cutter

My initials are beats per second

Scrubbed down to zero
by the rubies
in the halo

I whispered your name into the red air

and you answered
Source: Poetry (December 2013)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

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Red Migraine

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  • Born in Portland, Oregon, poet Michael Dickman grew up with his mother and twin brother, poet Matthew Dickman, in Lents, a suburb of Portland. He earned a BA at the University of Oregon and an MFA at the University of Texas-Austin’s Michener Center for Writers.
    Dickman’s elegiac free verse poems explore the difficult, often violent spectacle of personal memory; voice, in Dickman’s work, is a character unto itself, at once hopeful and spare, speculative and warped. As Rebecca Mead noted in her 2009 New Yorker profile of the Dickman twins, “Michael’s poems are interior, fragmentary, and austere, often stripped down to single-word lines; they seethe with incipient violence.”
    Dickman’s poetry collections include The End of the West (2009) and Flies (2011), which won the Academy of American Poets’s James Laughlin Award. A former Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, Dickman won the 2008 Narrative Prize and has received...

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