Michael Dickman’s scrawny, twitchy new poems look undernourished, but they have mean little ambitions.1 Cast in short, clipped lines (with the occasional long line thrown in as ballast), his second collection, Flies, is full of fever dreams of childhood, the haunting presence of his dead older brother, and flies, flies, flies. There are other animals as well:

My feet did not touch the floor

My heart raced 

I counted my breath like small white sheep and
pinned my eyes open and stared at the door

Any second now
Any second

It’s hard to write from a child’s point of view without fatally compromising the illusion or seeming cheerfully stupid. Elizabeth Bishop, in “Manners” and...


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